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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Credit: Michael Barnes, UC Berkeley

Christopher Chang, 33

Probing chemical reactions in the body

University of California, Berkeley

Christopher Chang wants to revolutionize cellular imaging by changing the way biologists tag the molecules they want to see. Most tags fluoresce continuously, and each one binds to a target molecule of a specific shape. Chang, however, is developing probes that fluoresce only when they react chemically with their targets. This will allow scientists to observe the generation, accumulation, and release of molecules involved in passing signals within and between cells.

For example, one of Chang's tags glows green when it reacts with hydrogen peroxide--a chemical found throughout the brain, where its function is largely unknown. The brighter the color, the more hydrogen peroxide a cell is taking up. Chang has used this tag to study neurons from the hippo­campus, a brain area vital for learning and memory. His research shows that the chemical, known mostly for causing cell damage, also plays an important role in neural signaling. --Emily Singer

2008 TR35 Winners

Martin Burke

Molecular diversity

Christopher Chang

Probing chemical reactions in the body

Michelle Chang

Designing microbes to make fuels and drugs

Donhee Ham

Portable nuclear magnetic resonance

Konrad Hochedlinger (video)

Turning adult cells into stem cells

Milica Radisic

Patching damaged hearts

Bilal Shafi (video)

Preventing congestive heart failure

Joo Chuan Tong

My vision: Personalized vaccines

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