Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2006, Chemistry
B.S., University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, 2001, Chemistry
Optical imaging tools have revolutionized our understanding of living systems by enabling researchers to “peer” into tissues and cells and visualize biological features in real time. While powerful, these probes have been largely confined to monitoring cellular behaviors on a microscopic level. Visualizing cellular interactions and functions across larger spatial scales--including those involved in cell migration to distant tissues, immune function, and other biological processes--remains a daunting task. Dr. Jennifer Prescher is developing general toolsets to image such macroscopic cellular networks and behaviors. Her work allows for the development of new chemical tools and noninvasive imaging strategies that address the void of being able to see biological features in real time and therefore inspires new discoveries in a broad spectrum of fields.
Dr. Prescher’s young lab, having only been in development for four years, has already achieved important milestones related to imaging probe development, including constructing new tools and performing preclinical analyses. Dr. Prescher and her group are currently translating many of the image probe tools into models of infection and cancer progression. While Dr. Prescher’s background is rooted in the molecular underpinnings of big biological systems, it takes a team that is blended in order to design and implement effective imaging tools. Her multidisciplinary team, which bridges the biological, chemical, and physical sciences in addition to engineering, is composed of graduate students, postdocs, and undergraduates. Her collaborations across the country and with other scientists at UCI are improving the imaging probes and strategies used for routine biomedical analyses. Therefore, Dr. Prescher’s research feeds many discoveries by applying the old adage, “seeing is believing.” It is through her research that scientists are able to truly spy on cells and tissues in order to improve health, treat disease, and sustain life.