Philip J. Santangelo, PhD


Philip J. Santangelo, Ph.D.


Wallace H. Coulter Dept. of Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Santangelo’s research interests are in the regulation of gene expression, and the pathogenesis of viruses, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and HIV.  In order to develop new therapies for these pathologies, a fundamental understanding of their molecular mechanisms must be achieved. Dr. Santangelo's contributions have focused on the development and engineering of new molecular imaging technology for uncovering these mechanisms.  Molecular imaging provides both spatial and temporal information, at the single molecule, cell or organism level, which cannot often be obtained via biochemical assays. Specifically, he has focused on the development of two types of molecular imaging probes. The first type, single molecule-sensitive probes for imaging ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules, allow for the study of messenger RNA regulation, an important part of gene expression, and the replication and assembly of RNA viruses.  The second type of probe, positron-emission tomography (PET) probes, utilize antibodies and radioactive atoms to target viral infections and immune cells in live animals.  These methods will provide new insights into the fundamental mechanisms of cancer pathogenesis and viral infections, which will lead to new drug targets in the future.  The following represent a list of Dr. Santangelo’s recent progress: (1) the development of multivalent, single molecule sensitive, live-cell RNA imaging probes, (2) the quantitative characterization of native mRNA dynamics and their interactions with RNA granules during gene regulation, (3) the adaptation of these probes to the study of RNA-protein interactions during gene regulation, (4) an improved understanding of viral replication, budding and host interaction of human respiratory syncytial virus through the application of RNA imaging probes and (5) the development of a positron-emission tomography (PET) imaging agents for characterizing simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infections in live animals.      Our work intersects immunoengineering in a number of specific ways:   1) Quantification, on a per molecule and cell basis, of RNA-protein interactions involved in the regulation of AU-rich cytokine mRNA   2) Studying the role of the RSV nucleoprotein in antagonizing the innate immune system, specifically MDA5 and MAVS, to prevent interferon production using imaging techniques  3) Development of a positron-emission tomography (PET) imaging agents for characterizing simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infections in live animals.