Hailey Knox, Chemistry
Tissue Microenvironment (TiMe) Program

What is your research focus?

I explore photoacoustic imaging, a technique where light is delivered into tissues, and certain compounds absorb it. When they release it as heat, we can detect that energy output on an ultrasound. The technique provides better penetration and resolution than traditional imaging. We want to study the tumor microenvironment inside a living animal as opposed to having to do biopsies or other invasive methods, and this technique allows that to happen. I’m currently synthesizing molecules that respond to hypoxia—a lack of oxygen at the tissue level.

So, this technique is non-invasive? You don’t have to do a traditional biopsy?

Exactly, it’s great for preclinical studies because its not invasive, it’s the same level as taking fluorescence images.

Why is it important to learn more about hypoxia in tumors?

Hypoxia is one of the hallmarks of solid tumors and correlates with a poor prognosis because of significant effects on treatment resistance. There are also some cancers where hypoxia is more prevalent, so it can give an idea of whether or not patients will respond to certain therapies.

What is your favorite thing about your research?

My favorite part is, after I’ve made a compound and worked to characterize it and determine that it works, to finally do imaging with it and see it actually functioning the way I want inside a live animal. That’s really awesome.

How has the TiMe program been helpful in your research efforts?

The TiMe program brings people together from many different scientific backgrounds, and being around different perspectives has broadened my ability to tackle research problems. I really enjoy being able to share my research with people who are not necessarily in chemistry.

What are your personal interests or hobbies?

I’m from Idaho and enjoy all types of outdoor things like water and jet skiing and fishing. I love spending time with friends and family. Recently, I’ve gotten into photography, and that’s been really fun so far.