An associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, Nie employs nanotechnology to map molecular differences between people using a quantum-dot method that will soon help physicians detect, diagnose, and treat cancer more effectively.
While a chemistry professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, Nie researched a method of cancer detection in which multi-colored, fluorescent quantum dots are injected into tissue and then programmed to attach to specific biological molecules such as genes and proteins. Once the markers are labeled with color-coded quantum dots, Nie's computer-based algorithm converts the optical information into biological data. The method allows physicians to map an individual's unique body chemistry and the location and distribution of selected molecules or markers associated with diseases.
Since becoming a Biomedical Engineering faculty member in 2002, Nie has developed his method into a commercial technology. LaunchCyte Inc. spawned the Pittsburg-based Bioplex Corporation to commercialize Nie's quantum-dot method for healthcare applications such as drug discovery and clinical diagnostics, with help from the Atlanta-based Emtech Bio, a business incubator overseen by Georgia Tech and Emory University.
The director of nanotechnology at the Winship Cancer Institute, Nie was one of the first researchers brought to Tech and Emory by the Georgia Cancer Coalition's Distinguished Cancer Clinicians and Scientists Program, a $1 billion public-private initiative established by the Georgia General Assembly in 2001.