Understanding the mechanisms of cellular function and their dysfunction in disease requires a detailed picture of the molecular interactions in cells. In particular, we need imaging tools with single-molecule sensitivity, molecular-scale resolution, and dynamic imaging capability to allow direct visualization of molecular interactions in cells, as well as tools that can simultaneously image large numbers of genes, ideally at the genome scale, to probe how collective actions of these molecules give rise to cellular and tissue functions. The research in the Zhuang laboratory is aimed at developing such imaging methods and applying them to problems of biomedical interest.
Students and postdoctoral fellows in the Zhuang laboratory apply their diverse backgrounds in chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering to develop novel imaging methods, molecular probes, and image analysis algorithms, and to exploit these tools to study a variety of interesting biological problems, ranging from the structure of chromatin and chromosomes and the regulation of gene expression to sub-cellular structures in neurons and neuronal connectivity. Our current research is focused in three major areas: (1) super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, (2) single-cell transcriptome and genome imaging, (3) and single-molecule biology.