Due to the heterogeneity of cancer, personalized therapies tailored to the molecular signatures of a tumor are anticipated to provide better clinical efficacy. Tumor targeting ligands are becoming an important component in the development of customized therapies. Our laboratory utilizes unbiased phage display biopanning to identify targeting peptides that can home to tumors or other cells critical for tumor maintenance. After selection of a peptide, it is chemically optimized for use in different applications. The current scientific goals of the research group are to utilize these highly specific peptides to 1) develop drug delivery platforms that enable tumor-specific delivery of biologically active molecules in vivo 2) synthesize molecular PET imaging agents that can assess expression of cancer biomarkers in vivo 3) identify the cellular feature responsible for peptide binding and understand the role of this cell-surface receptor in cancer and 4) activate the immune system to destroy tumors. Our approach is multi-faceted encompassing biochemistry, organic chemistry, and molecular and cellular biology.