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Oklahoma State University
OSU Research

Office of the Vice President for Research

OSU Laboratories at Venture I




Dr. Chen's lab staffDr. Guangping Chen’s research laboratory investigates phase I and phase II drug metabolizing enzymes, specifically focusing on sulfotransferases. Research areas include toxicology, pharmacology, biochemistry, and molecular biology. We are interested in the metabolism of hormones and important clinical drugs by human sulfotransferases; protein structure and function relationships; and the unique catalytic mechanisms of sulfotransferases. We are also investigating gene regulation mechanisms of drug metabolizing enzymes by hormones, cancer drugs, and bioactive food components; the relationships between various stressors and drug metabolizing enzyme functions during physical stress, chemical stress, oxidative stress, and neurological stress; the potential roles of sulfation in hormone-sensitive cancers and potential flavonoids which can be developed into novel breast cancer drugs.






Benton Radiation Physics Lab Students

The Eugene V. Benton Radiation Physics Laboratory (EVBRPL) at Oklahoma State University is involved in a broad range of research concerning ionizing radiation and its effects on matter, especially as it relates to human health and safety. Current research areas include:

  • the radiation protection and dosimetry of humans in space and at aviation altitudes,

  • the assessment of the contribution of secondary neutrons to absorbed dose received by cancer patients during x-ray, proton, and carbon radiotherapy,

  • the role of secondary cosmic ray electrons and muons in the initiation of lightning,

One major effort currently underway is the development and testing of multifunctional materials for use in radiation shielding of future spacecraft and planetary surface habitats. The laboratory is also actively involved in the development, characterization and testing of active and passive radiation detectors, including tissue equivalent proportional counters, for use in space, in the atmosphere and for ground-based applications including medical physics, health physics, and radiation science education.






ChoThe Medical Physics Laboratory specializes in research focused on improving cancer radiotherapy and diagnostic imaging. Prior to joining the OSU faculty, Dr. Cho worked as a board-certified medical physicist in the field of radiation therapy for a number of years. His clinical expertise is in proton therapy, although he also has considerable experience in conventional radiotherapy (x-ray, electron, and brachytherapy). His research expertise is in nuclear medicine, including positron emission tomography (PET) and gold nanoparticles (GNPs). Most of Dr. Cho’s research efforts have been clinically oriented and includes three distinct areas: 1. the use of PET for proton treatment verification and cancer imaging, 2. the use of GNPs, hybrid GNPs, and hybrid quantum dots (QDs) to enhance the effectiveness of radiotherapy and cancer imaging, and 3. the development ultra-fast coincidence detectors and gamma cameras for prompt-gamma detection and proton treatment verification.


Current research interests are as follows:

  1. Use of PET for proton treatment verification – For this project, we are developing proton activated fiducial markers using 18O, 63Cu, 68Zn and biocompatible hydrogel.  Right after proton treatment, fiducial markers implanted in patients are proton activated and decay while emitting positrons. Therefore, the PET imaging enables in-vivo proton therapy/range verification.

  2. Development of novel proton spectrum detectors – We are developing a novel method of directly measuring the spectrum of therapeutic proton beams. This will improve LET (linear energy transfer) and RBE (relative biological effectiveness) estimation significantly.

  3. Zn@Au nanoparticles for PET-image guided radiation therapy – GNP is a great radiosensitizer when sufficiently uptaken or delivered into the tumor. We developed hybrid Zn@Au (zinc core and gold shell) nanoparticles which are activated using a medical cyclotron before patient injection. Proton activated Zn cores become positron emitters that make in-vivo imaging of the nanoparticles possible using PET.

  4. Hybrid GNPs for PET and Cherenkov mediated radiation therapy and molecular imaging – We are developing various core-shell hybrid GNPs using various positron emitting radionuclides such as 68Ga, 64Cu, 89Zr, and 52Mn. Hybrid GNPs can be used for PET image-guided radiation therapy and molecular imaging. Those hybrid GNPs emit strong Cherenkov luminescence as well. The possible applications include image-guided cancer surgery (Cherenkov luminescence endoscopy).

  5. Self-illuminating hybrid QDs for luminescence mediated molecular imaging – We are developing QDs which emit light without external (UV) excitation. Since the QDs do not require external excitation, they are free of autofluorescence from cell structures. They can be used for highly sensitive cancer and molecular imaging.

  6. Development of a 145Sm brachy source for GNP mediated brachytherapy – 145Sm is a near monoenergetic gamma emitter of 40 keV where GNP in-tumor radiosensitivity is the highest. Patients injected with GNPs in their tumor will be treated with 145Sm brachytherapy for maximal tumor dose without increasing normal tissue toxicity.

  7. Development of fast SPECT gamma cameras – This project involves silver fiducial markers that are implanted in patient and activated by therapeutic proton beams. Signals from the activated silver fiducial markers are recorded by the gamma camera for proton treatment verification. Activated silver fiducial markers decay with a half-life of a few micro-seconds.

  8. Development of ultra-fast coincidence detectors – We are developing novel, prompt gamma detectors using ultra-fast coincidence detectors. The design of the detectors is proprietary and is superior to the conventional method of using a Compton slit camera. This will allow on-line proton and heavy ion range verification, which makes the real-time beam range correction possible.






MalayerThe laboratory is involved in basic and applied research aimed at development of biosensor technology for detection of molecular targets, including targets specific to agents involved in biowarfare/bioterrorism, contamination of food products, and antibiotic resistant infections; characterization of mechanisms and processes employed to modify bacteria, including resistance to the effects of therapeutic antibiotics; and the development of platform technology for multi-locus assay of biosignature or biomarker targets for molecular diagnostic applications. These programs have applications in food safety and agricultural bioterrorism defense, as well as medical diagnostic and biosurveillance applications.







Elshahed and YoussefDr. Elshahed’s laboratory at OSU studies the phylogenetic diversity, metabolic capabilities, and ecological roles of microorganisms in a variety of environments with specific emphasis on anaerobic habitats and soil. An integrative approach that combines large-scale, culture-independent phylogenetic surveys, environmental genomic (metagenomic) approaches, and isolation and characterization of novel microorganisms is used to study an ecosystem and/or a microbial group of interest.


The Elshahed group also studies various aspects of the ecology, biochemistry, evolution, and genomics of anaerobic fungi. Of special interest is the use of anaerobic fungal isolates or enzymes for efficient sugar extraction and biofuel production from lignocellulosic biomass. Our current efforts span a wide range of approaches, ranging from the isolation and characterization of novel anaerobic fungal strains, development of anaerobic fungal enzyme cocktails for lignocellulosic biomass deconstruction, and development of new consolidated bioprocessing schemes for biofuel production from ligncoellulosic biomass using anaerobic fungi.


Dr. Youssef’s lab is interested in exploring the metabolic diversities in single cell genomes of not-yet cultured Bacteria and Archaea. We analyze single-amplified-genomes (SAGs) of candidate phyla in hopes of finding clues for culturing them. Examples of SAGs studied include the candidate bacterial phyla WS3 "Latescibacteria," and WWE1 "Cloacimonetes," and the candidate archaeal superphylum DPANN.


The Youssef group is also interested in studying the evolutionary history of the Neocallimastigomycota, the fungal phylum of the anaerobic gut fungi (AGF). Currently we are conducting a pan genomic survey of all 6 known AGF genera, and utilizing the data for an extensive phylogenomic analysis of this phylum, especially for resolving the evolutionary history of Neocallimastigomycota within the fungal tree of life.







MicroscopyEstablished in 1977 on the OSU campus, the laboratory is a service and teaching facility that serves over 300 researchers and students from the various OSU colleges as well as clients from several companies in the Stillwater area, other parts of the state and across the U.S.  Relocated to Venture I in January 2006, the laboratory continues to serve its users while expanding its services with new equipment and technologies.  A list of these services and charges is available at


The laboratory houses both scanning and transmission electron microscopes equipped with digital imaging and x-ray microanalysis capabilities.  These instruments show the visualization of structures at very high magnifications and with ultra-high resolution, down to nanometers (one billionth of a meter).  With the addition of x-ray analysis capability, the elemental composition of these structures can be determined.

  • Instruments include a JEOL JEM-2100 transmission electron microscope with an EVEX X-ray microanalysis system, an FEI Quanta 600 FEG scanning electron microscope with an EVEX X-ray microanalysis system, a Leica SP-2 confocal microscope, and a Veeco Multimode SPM.

  • The transmission electron microscope enables imaging of the internal features of samples whereas the scanning electron microscope shows the surface features of samples at high power and resolution.

  • The environmental scanning electron microscope allows the observation of samples in their native or ‘wet’ state avoiding the artifacts introduced by chemical fixation, dehydration and metal coating.  It also has x-ray microanalysis capabilities as well as the ability to obtain backscattered electron diffraction patterns to further characterize the chemical nature of samples.

  • Confocal microscopy localizes different macromolecules, organelles or structures within samples using fluorescent dyes and can be used to make 3-D images and movies.

  • The scanning probe (atomic force) microscope provides images of 3D surface topography at resolutions approaching the atomic or molecular scale as well as the chemical and physical properties of the surface of samples.


The laboratory offers instruction in microscopy techniques via a graduate course offered once per year and on an individual basis when needed.  Outreach activities include the Oklahoma Microscopy Society “Ugly Bug” contest for elementary school students across the state, participation in art class projects with both OSU and Stillwater Junior High students and tours of the facility for local community groups.  Tours are available upon request.







Spark ChamberThe OSU Radiation Physics Teaching Laboratory supports the radiation physics and medical physics programs at OSU by providing students with hands-on experience in a variety of instrumentation and techniques used in the detection, measurement and analysis of ionizing radiation. Beginning students carry out experiments to learn the basic techniques of radiation detection and measurement, while more advanced students are able to design and conduct their own experiments. Instrumentation includes survey meters, ionization chambers and proportional counters, liquid scintillation counters, and several alpha, beta, and gamma spectrometers. The laboratory also houses a collection of vintage radiation detectors spanning the history of radiation physics, as well as vintage physics demonstration apparatus. Historical items include several electroscopes, civil defense radiation detectors, and a 1930s vintage General Electric diagnostic x-ray machine. The laboratory also houses a cosmic ray muon spark chamber for demonstrating the presence of cosmic radiation at the Earth’s surface.










McKeever and YukiharaThis long-established OSU lab conducts basic and applied research into luminescence materials and methods for the detection and measurement of radiation. The lab specializes in particular in thermally and optically stimulated luminescence, with applications in space dosimetry, medical, personal and environmental dosimetry. Additional interests are in retrospective dosimetry methods, especially methods for emergency dosimetry following accidents or other large-scale exposure events. Interests also include charged particle dosimetry, homeland security and dosimetry for radiation therapy. For more information, visit the Radiation Dosimetry Laboratory web page.