Vanderbilt University
Institute of Imaging Science

Mingfeng Bai, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Contact Information


My interests are fluorescent probe and photosensitizer (PS) development, fluorescence imaging, photodynamic therapy (PDT), multi-functional drug delivery system, and intraoperative imaging. Our lab develops targeted molecular probes for cancer imaging and therapy purposes.


The goal of our laboratory is to develop and evaluate new molecular probes for diagnostic imaging and therapy, particularly fluorescence imaging agents and PSs with the ultimate goal of moving our basic science discoveries to the clinic. Fluorescence imaging is a powerful technique for location of tumors and identification of tumor margins in the clinic. It is also often used to label specific proteins to study the precise role of these proteins in the regulation of physiological activities and diseases. The success of such applications largely depends on highly sensitive and specific fluorescent probes, which we are interested in developing and evaluating (in vitro and in vivo) in our lab. Another aspect of our research is to synthesize near infrared (NIR) PSs for PDT of cancers in a target-specific, minimally invasive, and highly controllable manner. Because PSs only produce phototoxicity in the irradiated area, PDT treatment avoids systemic toxicity. In addition, the intrinsic fluorescence of PS allows for fluorescence imaging-guided therapy, offering PDT a desired "see and treat" approach. Targeted NIR PSs have great potential to treat tumors with high efficacy and low side effects, as well as providing fluorescence imaging guidance with high contrast.


Ling Yang, Shaojuan Zhang, Xiaoxi Ling, Pin Shao, Ningyang Jia, and Mingfeng Bai* "Multilayer Photodynamic Therapy for Highly Effective and Safe Cancer Treatment" Acta Biomaterialia 2017 in press.

Shaojuan Zhang, Ling Yang, Xiaoxi Ling, Pin Shao, Xiaolei Wang, W. Barry Edwards, Mingfeng Bai* "Tumor Mitochondria-targeted Photodynamic Therapy with a Translocator Protein (TSPO)-specific Photosensitizer" Acta Biomaterialia 2015, 28, 160-170.

Xiaoxi Ling, Shaojuan Zhang, Pin Shao, Weixia Li, Ling Yang, Ying Ding, Cong Xu, Nephi Stella, and Mingfeng Bai* "A Novel Near-infrared Fluorescence Imaging Probe that Preferentially Binds to Cannabinoid Receptors CB2R over CB1R" Biomaterials 2015, 57, 169-178.

Jelena M. Janjic*, Pin Shao, Shaojuan Zhang, Sravan Kumar Patel, Xun Yang and Mingfeng Bai* "Perfluorocarbon Nanoemulsions with Fluorescent, Colloidal and Magnetic Properties" Biomaterials 2014, 35(18), 4958-4968.

Shaojuan Zhang, Ningyang Jia, Pin Shao, Qin Tong, Xiangqun Xie and Mingfeng Bai* "Target-Selective Phototherapy Using a Ligand-Based Photosensitizer for Type 2 Cannabinoid Receptor" Chemistry & Biology 2014, 21(3), 338-344.