Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Ning Fang, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry

Dr. Ning Fang joined Georgia State University in August of 2008 as an Assistant Professor. He received his B.S. from Xiamen University, China in 1998 and his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia, Canada in 2006 under Prof. David D.Y. Chen and was a Postdoctoral Associate at Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy with Prof. Edward S. Yeung from 2006 to 2008.

Dr. Fang has developed a new optical imaging technique, Single Particle Orientation and Rotational Tracking (SPORT), to image rotational motions in live cells and ultimately target cancer cells.

Dr. Fang’s invention is a differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy-based imaging tool, which tracks plasmonic nanoparticles of various shapes and sizes. The SPORT is a modified commercial microscope with five-dimensional single- particle tracking capabilities.

The SPORT enables scientists to acquire fundamental knowledge about the detailed rotational dynamics of cellular processes, such as adhesion, endocytosis and transport of functionalized nanoparticles relevant to drug delivery and viral entry. Dr. Fang received the prestigious Innovation Award from the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies for this invention.

The SPORT helps answer this question, providing insight into nanoparticle-protein and cell interactions specifically related to cell migration.

The next step for Fang and his research team is to develop computer stimulations to understand the effects of nanoparticle shapes, sizes and surface modifiers.

His work in is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Our research focuses on the development and application of optical imaging techniques in chemical and biological research. We currently have three projects funded by NIH and NSF to seek answers to the following fundamental questions: (1) How do molecular motors (e.g., dynamin and kinesin) carry out the essential cellular functions, such as endocytosis and intracellular transport? (2) What are the underlying mechanisms of the profound effects of nanoparticles on cytotoxicity, human health, and environments? (3) How do we quantitatively study the catalytic efficiency of nanocatalysts at the single molecule and single catalyst level?”
Our work makes an impact in both basic science and biomedical applications. We provide new fundamental knowledge about the detailed rotational dynamics of cellular membrane processes, such as adhesion, transport, and endocytosis of functionalized nanoparticles, as may be relevant to drug delivery and viral entry. We make the first accurate measurement of the nanoconfinement effects on catalysis and provide guidance to improve the efficiency of nanocatalysts. We study nanoparticles of different sizes and shapes and explore their biomedical application in inhibiting cancer metastasis.
I teach a course on chromatography. Challenging theories are discussed in the beginning of the semester. The “aha!” moment arrives when we connect the theories to practical separation techniques. All of a sudden, everything seems to be so much easier.
My favorite object in my office is a 3D-printed part for a home-built microscope (patent pending). 3D printing is used frequently in our instrument development.

My students and postdocs have given me many great moments at GSU. My favorite one is probably the moment I realized Fei Zhao (Ph.D. student) had finally beaten all odds to build a new microscope that I had been waiting for 4 years. The design was so challenging that a former postdoc and two former students (all great scientists) could not accomplish.