Dr. Villanueva's research focuses on the development of medical diagnostic and therapeutic strategies based on ultrasound and ultrasound contrast agents (gas-filled microspheres, or microbubbles). Her work has consistently bridged fundamental imaging sciences with translational biomedical research. As an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association, she has been a leader in the development of microbubbles for the assessment of myocardial perfusion, and ultrasound molecular imaging with targeted microbubbles for the detection of inflammatory and angiogenic endothelial markers in pre-clinical models of heart disease. Dr. Villanueva's lab has pioneered the development and application of microbubbles as molecular probes, and acoustic detection strategies for optimizing imaging sensitivity. Her lab group has applied fundamental principles of ultrasound and the physics of microbubble acoustic behaviors to develop novel targeted molecular therapeutics, whereby nucleic acid loaded microbubbles (siRNA, miRNA, plasmid), in the presence of precisely tuned ultrasound, selectively enhance membrane permeability and deliver payloads to the target site. These studies are conducted at the Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics, a translational multidisciplinary research facility which epitomizes the reciprocal relationship between imaging sciences and biomedical translational research.