Dr. Elyse Digby successfully defended her PhD thesis on April 4, 2023! Her PhD research project focused on applying novel small molecule photosensitizers to improve the efficacy of PDT. She studied the design of photosensitizers that would be selectively activated in cancers overexpressing certain enzyme targets (e.g.., human NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase 1), a photosensitizer that was able to directly target and damage DNA (Br-DAPI), and a proof-of-concept molecule that was demonstrated to produce ROS without the requirement of light (where the limited penetration depth of visible light used in PDT is a drawback of the therapy). One of the exciting things about the Br-DAPI compound is its efficacy as a stand-alone photosensitizer, which can be modified in such a way to improve its efficacy to induce cancer cell death and its ability to be used for antimicrobial PDT (a technique used to help combat antibiotic resistance). With this one easily synthesized molecule, she was able to optimize and explore multiple applications where it was effective.
Congratulations to Elyse!! We are so happy that you have successfully completed such a significant chapter of your life and are now part of our lab!