Chien Ho, PhD

Dr. Chien Ho is Alumni Professor of Biological Sciences, Emeritus, of the Department of Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University. He earned a PhD from Yale University and completed his postdoctoral training in the Departments of Chemistry and Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A former recipient of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute MERIT Award. Dr. Ho is an Academician of Academia Sinica. In 2013, Dr. Ho was named a Fellow of the International Society for the Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) and received his Gold Medal Award for his contributions to the development of in-vivo tracking of immune cells by MRI. In 2021, he was elected as a Fellow of the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering (IAMBE).  Dr. Ho has over 300 papers published in peer-review journals.

Dr. Ho has three major research projects:

  1. Hemoglobin Allostery: A study of human normal and mutant hemoglobins in order to understand the molecular mechanism of the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. His lab has constructed an expression plasmid (pHE2) to produce authentic human normal adult hemoglobin (Hb) in Escherichia coli and has allowed his lab to design and express any mutant hemoglobins needed for his research. His Hb research shows the power of combining information obtained from X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, computer modeling, molecular genetics, and functional studies to correlate the structure-dynamics-function relationship of an allosteric protein under physiological conditions at atomic resolution.
  2. The Application of Magnetic Resonance Techniques to Living Systems: His lab has applied magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to monitor the migration of immune cells in vivo using dextran-coated superparamagnetic iron-oxide (SPIO) particles as MRI contrast agents, and has also applied this method to detect cardiac transplant rejection in his rat model. In a two-pronged approach, his lab has followed the infiltration of immune cells, e.g., macrophages and T-cells, into a rejecting heart and at the same time has monitored heart function during the graft rejection process. Thus, he can monitor the anatomy, immunology, pathology, and function of a transplanted heart in vivo and non-invasively. This approach could, in the future, allow physicians to detect graft rejection earlier and to administer appropriate immunosuppressive and/or other treatments.
  3. Improving Delivery of Nanodrug: According to a recent meta-analysis, less than 1% of injected nanodrugs are delivered to the target tumors. A major portion of the drugs is taken up by the reticuloendothelial system (RES). His lab has developed a novel approach to deliver anti-cancer nanodrugs by pre-administration of Intralipid®, an FDA-approved nutrition supplement, to temporarily blunt the RES. His lab has tested his nanodrug delivery method with the anti-cancer nanodrugs, Abraxane, and an experimental platinum-containing nanodrug, in rodent models. Following pre-treatment with Intralipid®, a reduced dose of nanodrug is as effective as a standard dose without Intralipid® in reducing accumulation of drug in the RES and in slowing tumor growth, thus potentially improving the quality of life of patients as well as reducing the cost of treatment with these expensive drugs. This new nanodrug delivery method is a general one, i.e., it can be applied to all existing drugs as well as drugs under development because it does not need to modify the drugs or their carriers.

View a partial list of Dr. Ho’s publications here.

Dr. Ho’s ORCID ID: