Medical Imaging

Department                             Imaging Physics

Principal investigator          Dr. David Maresca

E-mail address             



Protein engineering of gas vesicles for multi-plexed biomolecular ultrasound imaging

Supervisor: Dion Terwiel & Byung Min Park,

Ultrasound imaging has recently entered the biomolecular imaging field with the discovery of gas vesicles (GVs) as ultrasound contrast agents. GVs are gas-filled cylindrical protein nano-structures (50nm x 500nm) found in cyanobacteria who use them for floatation. Their genetic encodability allows them to fulfill a similar function to GFP in optics: to connect detectable signals to cellular and molecular processes. Contrary to optics however, ultrasound imaging is capable of penetrating into opaque tissue. We at the Maresca lab are involved in the effort to expand the toolkit for gas vesicles as contrast agents. This project is mainly concerned with finding a consistent strategy for engineering gas vesicle sizes and population heterogeneity, with the aim of enabling multiplexed imaging of cellular processes in a single organism.


  • Molecular biology (PCR, transformation etc.)
  • Protein expression and purification
  • Ultrasound imaging
  • Nanopore particle size analysis
  • TEM

Further reading

Heiles, B. (2021). Neuroscience, 474, 122-133. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2021.03.011.