Dr Xiaowen Liang awarded her PhD from The University of Queensland (UQ) in 2015 and received the Dean’s Award for outstanding Research Higher Degree Theses (top 10% of UQ graduates). She is a UQ Development Fellow and the focus of her work is on the use of advanced technologies to improve liver cancer outcomes and in managing drug induced liver injury. She has published a total of 4 book chapters and 46 peer-reviewed articles (7 as first author and 14 as corresponding author) in high-quality journals such as Advanced Science, Theranostics, ACS Nano and Hepatology. She has attracted over $770,000 as CIA including NHMRC New Investigator Project Grant, UQ Development Fellowship, and Global Connection Fund Priming Grant. Currently, she supervises one PhD student and one Honours student as principal supervisor and co-supervises 3 PhD students.
Conventionally, invasive sampling and analysis are used to evaluate hepatic physiology and function as well as the fate, kinetics, and effects of exogenous materials in the liver. Multiphoton microscopy coupled with fluorescence lifetime imaging (MPM-FLIM) has changed conventional methodology, which enables the in vivo assessment of hepatic microenvironments and dynamic monitoring of treatment response. We have applied MPM-FLIM to investigate the cellular histopathological hallmarks and metabolic status in healthy and diseased livers (e.g. fibrosis, hepatocellular carcinoma and ischemia-reperfusion) using stain free technique or fluorescent probes. We further developed an intravital imaging platform to visualise and characterise the sub-organ distribution and physiologically based kinetics of small molecules, nanoparticles, and therapeutic cells in the liver. It provides a framework for high-accuracy, spatially configured and quantitative assessment of hepatic microenvironments and drug response at the single cell level.
Contrast enhanced ultrasonography (CEU) is an imaging technique with gas-filled microbubbles as contrast agents that infuse into the intravascular space of the body. We have successfully applied CEU to non-invasively assess the hepatic perfusion and microcirculation in injured livers before and after treatment. The parametric perfusion images reflected rapid and marked reduction in the microvascular perfusion of the injured liver and imaging-based vascular-related biomarkers can identify early and mild liver injury induced by drug overdose. We recommend that CEU is a feasible novel, quantitative, noninvasive, and clinically approved technique for evaluating hepatic microcirculation and monitoring of treatment response in the liver.