Heather Clark

Professor,  Bioengineering
Professor,  Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Director,  CILS


Social Media


  • 310 ISEC
  • 617.373.3091

Research Focus

Optical nanosensors for biological analysis


Ph.D. Analytical Chemistry, University of Michigan, 1999
B.S. Chemistry, University of Michigan

Honors & Awards

  • Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, 2021
  • Young Faculty Award, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Research Overview

Optical nanosensors for biological analysis

Selected Research Projects

  • AChMRNS: Nanosensors for Chemical Imaging of Acetylcholine Using MRI
    • – Principal Investigator, National Institutes of Health
  • Circulating Red Blood Cell Based Nanosensors for Continuous, Real-Time Drug Monitoring
    • – Principal Investigator, National Institutes of Health
  • Optical Nanosensors Detect Neurotransmitter Release in the Peripheral Nervous System
    • – Principal Investigator, National Institutes of Health

Research Centers and Institutes

Selected Publications

  • Gooding, J. Justin, Camasso, Nicole, Bakker, Eric, Kelley, Shana, Sailor, Michael, Merkx, Maarten, Mao, Lanqun, Clark, Heather, Maboudian, Roya, Masson, Jean-François, deMello, Andrew, Li, Meng, Liu, Sue Min (2021). 2021: A Year Starting Full of Hope. ACS Sensors, 6(1),1-2. 10.1021/ACSSENSORS.0C02726
  • Seo, Hyewon, Ma, Kristine Y., Tuttle, Erin E., Calderon, Isen Andrew C., Buskermolen, Alissa D., Flask, Chris A., Clark, Heather A. (2021). A DNA-Based MRI Contrast Agent for Quantitative pH Measurement. ACS Sensors, 6(3),727-732. 10.1021/ACSSENSORS.1C00296
  • Xia, Junfei, Yang, Hongrong, Mu, Michelle, Micovic, Nicholas, Poskanzer, Kira E., Monaghan, James R., Clark, Heather A. (2021). Imaging in vivo acetylcholine release in the peripheral nervous system with a fluorescent nanosensor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(14),e2023807118. 10.1073/PNAS.2023807118
  • Clark, Heather, Monaghan, James, Yang, Hongrong, Xia, Junfei, Mu, Michelle, Lovely, Alexander, Micovic, Nicholas (2020). SPARCA DNA‐based optical nanosensor for in vivo imaging of acetylcholine in the peripheral nervous system. The FASEB Journal, 34(S1),1-1. 10.1096/FASEBJ.2020.34.S1.05947
  • Clark, Heather A. (2020). Has Sensing Become an Engineering Discipline?. ACS Sensors, 5(2),292-293. 10.1021/ACSSENSORS.0C00227
  • Di, Wenjun, Tan, Xuefei, Calderon, Isen Andrew C., Neal Reilly, Ashlyn E., Niedre, MarkClark, Heather A. (2020). Real-time particle-by-particle detection of erythrocyte-camouflaged microsensor with extended circulation time in the bloodstream. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(7),3509-3517. 10.1073/PNAS.1914913117
  • Di, Wenjun, Clark, Heather A. (2020). Optical Nanosensors for in vivo Physiological Chloride Detection for Monitoring Cystic Fibrosis Treatment. Analytical Methods, 12(11),1441-1448. 10.1039/C9AY02717C
  • H. Seo, H.A. Clark, Gadolinium-Based MRI Contrast Agent for the Detection of Tyrosinase, Analyst, 145, 2020, 1169-1173
  • W. Di, H.A. Clark, Optical Nanosensors for in Vivo Physiological Chloride Monitoring for Cystic Fibrosis, Analytical Methods, 12 (11), 2020, 1441-1448
  • W. Di, X. Tan, I.A.C. Calderon, A.E. Neal Reilly, M. Niedre, H.A. Clark, Real-Time Particle-by-Particle Detection of Erythrocyte Camouflaged Microsensor with Extended Circulation Time in the Bloodstream, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(7), 2020, 3509-3517
  • J. Morales, R.H. Pawle, N. Akkilic, Y. Luo, M. Xavierselvan, R. Albokhari, DNA-Based Photoacoustic Nanosensor for Interferon Gamma Detection, ACS Sensors, 4(5), 2019, 1313-1322
  • C. Anderson, M. Johansen, B. Erokwu, H. Hu, Y. Gu, Y. Zhang, H.A. Clark, et al., Simultaneous Concentration Mapping of Multiple MRI Contrast Agents with Dual Contrast – Magnetic Resonance Fingerprinting, Nature Scientific Reports, 9(1), 2019, 1-11
professor working in the nanosensor lab for the Institute for the Chemical Imaging of Living Systems


Apr 20, 2021

Nanosensor Tracking Communication Between Body and the Brain

BioE/COS Professor Heather Clark developed a new DNA-based nanosensor that tracks neurotransmitter communication between the body and brain in real-time. The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A burgeoning field of medicine known as bioelectronic medicine seeks to use highly specific nerve stimulation to treat neurological diseases. In order to precisely target the nerves, scientists need to know how they react in real time and in living organisms; this nanosensor represents a step in that direction.

Heather Clark


Feb 16, 2021

Clark Named 2021 AIMBE Fellow

Professor Heather Clark, bioengineering, jointly appointed in chemistry and chemical biology, and director of Northeastern University’s Institute for Chemical Imaging of Living Systems, has been named a 2021 AIMBE Fellow.


Feb 06, 2019

Clark Awarded Patent

BioE/COS Professor Heather Clark was awarded a patent for "Compositions and methods for measurement of analytes". Abstract Source: USPTO Disclosed herein sensor matrices comprising nanofibers and one or more sensor components, wherein the one or more sensor components detect an analyte. In addition, methods of making and detecting the sensor matrices are disclosed. For example, […]


Oct 30, 2018

Clark Awarded $1.5M NIH Grant for Chemical Imaging of Acetylcholine

BioE/COS Professor Heather Clark was awarded a $1.5M grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for “Nanosensors for Chemical Imaging of Acetylcholine Using MRI”.


Oct 12, 2018

Imaging the Chemistry of our Bodies

BioE/COS Professor Heather Clark directs the new Chemical Imaging for Living Systems (CILS) Institute which will focus on finding ways to image the chemistry of our bodies.


Aug 15, 2018

Strong Female Role Models Contributed to Their Success

Jennifer Morales, PhD Bioengineering, comes from a place where feminist role models are rare and detainees are prevalent. She’s from Mission, Texas, a city in Hidalgo County—one of the immigration epicenters in the United States. “Whenever you hear about families getting separated at the border, they’re probably talking about Hidalgo,” she said. It’s economically depressed, […]


Feb 06, 2018

Bioengineering Professors Clark and Niedre Awarded a 4 year, $1.4 Million Grant from the NIH

Bioengineering Professor Heather Clark and Associate Professor Mark Niedre awarded a $1.4M, 4-year NIH grant to develop circulating red blood cell based nanosensors for non-invasive optical drug monitoring.


Sep 01, 2017

New Faculty Spotlight: Heather Clark

Heather Clark joins the Bioengineering department in September 2017 as a Professor with a joint appointment in Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

Mar 22, 2016

FY17 TIER 1 Award Recipients

23 COE faculty and affiliates were recipients of FY17 TIER 1 Interdisciplinary Research Seed Grants for 12 different projects representing over $600K dollars of investment in research.


Apr 04, 2013

FY14 TIER 1 Award Recipients

22 COE faculty and affiliates were recipients of FY14 TIER 1 Interdisciplinary Research Seed Grants for 14 different research projects.

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