john_zhangJohn X.J. Zhang, Ph.D.

Fellow AIMBE
Professor, Thayer School of Engineering
Investigator, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center


Contact: (603) 646-8787

Office: Maclean 233
Labs: CB01-03, MB06

John X.J. Zhang, Ph.D., is a Professor at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, and a Fellow of American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). He is a recipient of 2016 NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award. Dr. Zhang received his Ph.D. from Stanford University, and was a Research Scientist at MIT.

Dr. Zhang’s key contribution is in developing miniature medical systems to improve global health, through innovations in bio-inspired nanomaterials, lab-on-chip design, and advanced nanofabrication technologies for probing complex biological networks critical to human development and diseases such as cancer. He received NSF CAREER award for the invention of plasmonic scanning probes design for controlled perturbation and imaging at sub-cellular level; DARPA Young Faculty Award for patterning plasmonic surface on MEMS for biomarker sensing applications, and the Wallace Coulter Foundation Early Career Award for developing handheld microphotonic imaging scanners and microsystems for early oral cancer detection. He has published over 160 peer reviewed papers and proceedings, presented over 70 invited seminars worldwide, and filed over 50 US and international patents. He is an alumnus of NAE Frontiers of Engineering programs, an Associate Editor for Biomedical Microdevices, IEEE/ASME Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems, and has published a textbook for undergraduates titled “Molecular Sensors and Nanodevices: Principles, Designs and Applications in Biomedical Engineering”.

For his commercialization activities, Dr. Zhang has made significant research and translational contributions to microchip-based cancer diagnostic and surgical technologies. He has filed over 50 patents in the US and internationally (over 30 issued). His research findings were licensed to two companies CardioSpectra, Inc. (acquired by Volcano for $25 million, Nasdaq: VOLC) and NanoLite Systems, Inc. for developing successful products designed to diagnose cancer through blood screening, tissue imaging and cell transformations at the point-of-care. Among them, he invented miniaturized confocal microscope powered by a 3D imaging MEMS scanner, which is a disruptive technology that can provide real-time “virtual biopsy”. It provides a more effective inter-operative platform for surgeons and pathologists to see the tissue structure real-time with high quality images and in 3-D at cellular resolution. The Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC) detection system licensed to NanoLite Systems, were designed to capture cancer cells in the blood. It provides a new tool to identify and capture CTCs faster and with higher capture rate and purity. It has the potential to serve as an alternative Point-of-Care (POC) technology that uses a simple blood test to diagnose and manage varieties of disease in a cost-effective way, and enable less-developed global regions to improve healthcare.