Vicente Receives NSF Funding to Study the Synthesis, Properties and Dynamics of BODIPY-based Fluorophores for Bioimaging

LSU Chemistry | August 8, 2021


Dr. Graca Vicente Baton Rouge, LA- Boron dipyrromethene (BODIPY) dyes are a class of fluorescent dyes known for their high fluorescence quantum yields, strong absorptions, and sharp emission spectra. Due to their impressive photophysical and photochemical properties, BODIPYs are widely utilized in a variety of imaging, theranostics, sensing, and analytical applications.

LSU Chemistry Professor Graça Vicente and her research team are designing, synthesizing, and investigating the photophysical, electrochemical, and biological properties of new dyes toward the development of BODIPY-based fluorophores for practical applications in biology and medicine.  

“The functionalization of the BODIPY core enables the tuning of their properties for specific applications,” Vicente said. “Our goal is to develop near-infrared absorbing and emitting BODIPYs, since near-infrared light penetrates deeper into biological tissues than visible light, for use in biomedical applications, including biolabeling, bioimaging and biosensing.”  

The project involves both computational and experimental methods to design, synthesize and evaluate the new fluorescent dyes and their conjugates, with enhanced stability, biocompatibility and performance for practical applications. 

The co-PI on this project, Professor Petia Bobadova from Appalachian State University, will conduct the computational studies. Bobadova examines the structural modifications of BODIPY dyes in order to increase their stability, solubility, and fine-tune their photophysical properties.

“With computer modeling, my research group is able to answer questions that cannot be answered by experiment only,” Bobadova said. “By gaining insight into the reasons for their unique behavior, it is possible to design new materials with enhanced desired characteristics, guide their synthesis, and increase their practical applications.”  

Chemistry graduate student Simran

LSU Chemistry graduate student Simran Dhingra from the Vicente Research Group working on synthesizing the imaging agents that are useful for the early detection of various cancer cells.

The project was first funded by the National Science Foundation in 2009 and was recently awarded its fourth renewal (2021-2024). Project results have already resulted in over 20 collaborative publications. 

Prior to joining the LSU Faculty in 2001, Vicente was a faculty member at the University of California Davis, where she received her doctoral degree in chemistry in 1990. She completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Bourgogne in France (1991), the University of Geneva in Switzerland (1991-1993), and ITQB (Research Institute) in Portugal (1993). She started her independent academic career at the University of Aveiro in Portugal in 1993, and moved back to the University of California Davis in 1998.

Currently, Vicente is the Charles H. Barré Distinguished Professor, and Professor of Chemistry, in the LSU Department of Chemistry. Her research interests include the synthesis and investigations of pyrrole-based materials and their development for applications in biology and medicine, such as in photodynamic therapy (PDT), and boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) of cancers.

For more information on the Vicente research group’s work on BODIPY-based fluorophores for bioimaging, visit their research page



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