People » Swadeshmukul Santra

Research in nanobioimaging, cancer imaging and therapy, stroke biomarker detection, stem cell tracking, drug delivery, pathogen detection, nanotoxicity evaluation.

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Real time noninvasive monitoring of biological processes such as stem cell tracking, cancer diagnosis, gene expression studies etc. requires highly sensitive probes, preferably with multimodal bioimaging capabilities. Conventional organic fluorescent dye or green fluorescent protein based labels are not suitable as they suffer from notorious shortcomings in photostability and lack of multimodal bioimaging capabilities. Therefore, there is certainly a need for developing engineered nanoparticle probes for real time, non-invasive and ultrasensitive bioimging.

My primary goal is to develop an interdisciplinary research program on nanobioimaging and sensing at the University of Central Florida. Projects in my group will primarily be focused on the design and synthesis of various nanoparticle based contrast agents such as fluorescent nanoparticles, radio-opaque nanoparticles, magnetic nanoparticles, biocompatible and biodegradable multifunctional particles, nanoparticle sensors for probing gene expression, stem cell differentiation and other cellular functions both in vitro and in vivo.

Recently we have developed multimodal quantum dots that are fluorescent, radio-opaque and paramagnetic ( With appropriate surface modification, we have successfully delivered them to rat brain tissue without compromising the blood-brain-barrier ( This research demonstrated our strength of making useful nanoparticles that have potential for pre-operative diagnosis of brain tumors by MR and/or CT scanning and intra-operative surgical guidance for tumor resection by direct visualization of nanoparticle fluorescence.

  • Malhotra A., Zhang X., Turkson J. and Santra S, “Buffer stable chitosan-polyglutamic acid hybrid nanoparticles for biomedical applications”, Macromolecular Bioscience, 2013 (published online); DOI: 10.1002/mabi.201200425.
  • Bolyard S.C., Reinhart D.R. and Santra S. Behavior of Engineered Nanoparticles in Landfill Leachate. Environmental Science & Technology, 2013. DOI: 10.1021/es305175e (Published on the web)
  • Maniprasad P and Santra S, “Novel copper loaded core-shell silica nanoparticles with improved copper bioavailability: synthesis, characterization and study of antibacterial properties” Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology 2012, 8(4), 558-566.
  • Mitra, R. N.; Doshi, M.; Zhang, X. L.; Tyus, J. C.; Bengtsson, N.; Fletcher, S.; Page, B. D. G.; Turkson, J.; Gesquiere, A. J.; Gunning, P. T.; Walter, G. A.; Santra S, “An activatable multimodal/multifunctional nanoprobe for direct imaging of intracellular drug delivery.” Biomaterials 2012, 33 (5), 1500-1508.
  • Tallury, P.; Santra S.; Sharma, P.; Matos, B. M. D.; Bengtsson, N.; Biswas, S.; Saha, A. K.; Walter, G. A.; Scott, E. A.; Moudgil, B. M., “Fluorescent and Paramagnetic Chitosan Nanoparticles that Exhibit High Magnetic Resonance Relaxivity: Synthesis, Characterization and In Vitro Studies.” Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology 2011, 7 (5), 724-729.
  • Banerjee S, Das J, Alvarez RP, Santra S, “Silica nanoparticles as reusable catalyst: A straight-forward route for the synthesis of thioethers, thioesters, vinyl thioethers and thio-Michael adducts under neutral reaction conditions”, New Journal of Chemistry, 2010, 34, 302-306.
  • Banerjee S, Kar S*, Perez, J. M., Santra S, “Quantum dot based OFF/ON probe for detection of glutathione”, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2009, 113 (22), 9659-9663.
  • Tallury P, Kar S, Bamrungsap S, Huang YF, Tan WH, Santra S, “Ultra-small water-dispersible fluorescent chitosan nanoparticles: synthesis, characterization and specific targeting”, Chemical Communications, 2009, (17), 2347-2349.
  • Banerjee S, Kar S, Santra S, “A simple strategy for quantum dot assisted selective detection of cadmium ions”Chemical Communications, (26), 3037-3039, 2008.
  • Santra S, Bagwe RP, Dutta D, Stanley JT, Tan W, Moudgil BM and Mericle RA, Synthesis and characterization of novel fluorescent, radio-opaque and paramagnetic silica nanoparticles for multifaceted bioimaging applications, ADVANCED MATERIALS, 17(18), 2165-2169, 2005.
  • Santra S, Yang H, Stanley JT, Holloway PH, Moudgil BM, Walter G and Mericle RA, Rapid and effective labeling of brain tissue using TAT-conjugated CdS:Mn/ZnS quantum dots, CHEM. COMMUN., (25): 3144-3146, 2005.
  • Santra S, Yang H, Holloway PH, Stanley JT, Mericle RA, Synthesis of Water-Dispersible, Fluorescent, Radio-opaque and Paramagnetic CdS:Mn/ZnS Quantum Dots: A Multifunctional Probe for Bioimaging, J. AMER. CHEM. SOC., 127(6): 1656-1657, 2005.
  • Santra S, Zhang P, Wang KM, Tapec R, Tan WH, Conjugation of biomolecules with luminophore-doped silica nanoparticles for photostable biomarkers, ANAL CHEM 73 (20): 4988-4993 OCT 15 2001.
  • Santra S, Tapec R, Theodoropoulou N, Dobson J, Hebard A, Tan WH, Synthesis and characterization of silica-coated iron oxide nanoparticles in microemulsion: The effect of nonionic surfactants, LANGMUIR 17 (10): 2900-2906 MAY 15 2001.
  • Santra S, Zhang, P, Tan WH, Novel interaction between glutamate and the Cu2+/DMABN/b -CD complex, J PHYS CHEM A 104 (51): 12021-12028 DEC 28 2000.

In my lab students will be exposed to the cutting-edge field of nanoparticle technology. Students will find a wonderful research opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary team environment of chemists, materials scientists and molecular biologists. They will have a strong platform to acquire skills and knowledge for the design and synthesis of various nanoparticles for bioimaging and sensing applications. They will also learn how to plan and execute research experiments in a timely manner, prepare research reports, prepare for professional presentations, prepare manuscripts for publications etc. I highly expect that students from my group will become an independent researcher as well as capable of working in a team environment.

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UCF Recognized as ‘Center of Excellence’

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