News/Events

Storing information and designing uncrackable codes with DNA

September 15, 2020

For billions of years, Nature has used DNA like a molecular bank vault; a place to store her most coveted secrets: the design blueprints essential to life. Now, researchers at ASU’s Biodesign Institute are exploring the unique information-carrying capacities of DNA, hoping to produce microscopic forms whose ability to encrypt, store and retrieve information rival those of the silicon-based semiconductor memories found in most computers. If successful, DNA-based storage technologies...

A new twist on DNA origami

September 7, 2020

A team of scientists from Arizona State University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), led by Hao Yan, ASU’s Milton Glick Professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and director of the ASU Biodesign Institute’s Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics, has just announced the creation of a new type of meta-DNA structures that will open up the fields of optoelectronics, including information storage and encryption as well as synthetic...

SNIPRs take aim at disease-related mutations

February 27, 2020

A typo appearing in the draft of a novel is no great calamity. Nature, however, is often less forgiving of errors. A change in just one letter of the genetic code can have catastrophic consequences for human health. Such genomic gaffes, involving a single base in a length of DNA or RNA, are known as point mutations. They can result in mild abnormalities like color blindness as well as serious diseases, including neurofibromatosis, sickle-cell anemia, certain forms of cancer and Tay–Sachs...

Biodesign researchers among world’s most influential researchers

December 17, 2019

Web of Science has named Marc Messerschmidt, an associate research professor in the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery and the School of Molecular Sciences; Uwe Weierstall, associate faculty in the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery and research professor in the Department of Physics; Hao Yan, the Milton D. Glick Distinguished Professor in Chemistry and Biochemistry and director of the Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics; and Wei...

Hao Yan and 6 other ASU researchers honored as AAAS Fellows

December 4, 2019

Biodesign researcher Hao Yan, along with six other outstanding faculty members from Arizona State University have been named as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Yan, (chemistry), is recognized for pioneering work and distinguished contributions in structural DNA nanotechnology and molecular self-assembly. His overarching research goal is to achieve programmed design and assembly of biologically inspired nanomaterials and to explore its...

ASU professor named to Fast Company’s 'Most Creative People in Business 2019'

May 22, 2019

Arizona State University Biodesign Institute researcher Hao Yan has been named to Fast Company’s list of “Most Creative People in Business 2019” for his work using nanobots to fight cancerous tumors by choking off their blood supply. Fast Company recognized Yan’s work using nanorobots to treat cancer at the molecular level. A pioneer in the field of DNA origami, Yan and his team in the  Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics  draw their inspiration from...

Using DNA templates to harness the sun’s energy

April 23, 2019

As the world struggles to meet the increasing demand for energy, coupled with the rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere from deforestation and the use of fossil fuels, photosynthesis in nature simply cannot keep up with the carbon cycle. But what if we could help the natural carbon cycle by learning from photosynthesis to generate our own sources of energy that didn't generate CO2? Artificial photosynthesis does just that, harnessing the sun's energy to generate fuel in ways that minimize CO2...

DNA on auto-pilot

January 3, 2019

Nature has made extravagant use of a simple molecule—DNA, the floorplan of all earthly life. Inventive researchers have used the same base-pairing properties that bond two strands of DNA into the familiar double helix to build innumerable useful structures at the nanometer scale. One such method, known as DNA origami, has yielded rich results in recent years, enabling the construction of a rapidly growing menagerie of 2- and 3-dimensional objects, with far-flung applications in material...

Healing kidneys with nanotechnology

November 8, 2018

Each year, there are some 13.3 million new cases of acute kidney injury (AKI), a serious affliction. Formerly known as acute renal failure, the ailment produces a rapid buildup of nitrogenous wastes and decreases urine output, usually within hours or days of disease onset.  Severe complications often ensue. Currently, there is no known cure for AKI. AKI is responsible for 1.7 million deaths annually. Protecting healthy kidneys from harm and treating those already injured remains a...

Tying the knot: New DNA nanostructures

November 2, 2018

Knots are indispensable tools for such human activities as sailing, fishing and rock climbing, (not to mention, tying shoes).  But tying a knot in a lacelike strand of DNA, measuring just billionths of a meter in length, requires patience and highly specialized expertise. Hao Yan, a researcher at ASU, is a practiced hand in this delicate and exotic field, operating at the crossroads of nanotechnology and fine art. In new research appearing in the journal Nature Communications, Yan...