Bhargava, Wang Win Grainger Emerging Technology Awards

12/02/2008 - 8:00am

Dr. Yingxiao Wang and Dr. Rohit Bhargava
Dr. Yingxiao Wang and Dr. Rohit Bhargava
Dr. Rohit Bhargava, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, and Dr. Yingxiao Wang, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, have each received the Grainger Program in Emerging Technologies award. The award competition, sponsored by the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois and the Grainger Foundation, is designed to assist faculty to translate research into marketable products. The award provides each of the ten recipients with $100,000 in funding.

Dr. Wang’s proposal entitled, “Application of a MT1-MMP FRET Reporter to Detect Prostate Cancer” envisions a commercial product based on a specific FRET reporter to detect the MT1-MMP activity that he has developed in his lab for the screening and detection of prostate cancer. MT1-MMP is a crucial enzyme expressed at cell surface for prostate cancer (PCa) cells to digest basement membrane and invade the circulation system. The development of this method will provide a non-intrusive, accurate, convenient, and low-cost assay for the prognostics of metastatic prostate cancer and for the monitoring of personalized cancer therapy. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the Western male population. However, the accuracy of tests for detecting prostate cancer is very limited.

Dr. Bhargava’s project, entitled, “Nanofilter-based Infrared Spectroscopic Imaging”, aims to develop a new infrared spectroscopic imaging system for broad applications in medical diagnosis and materials characterization by taking advantage of new advances in materials fabrication, computation and optical design. The project will employ theoretical modeling of the optical design of various components and simulation of spectroscopic recording as a starting point. By developing new components that are optimized to applications, new parts will be fabricated and incorporated into a spectroscopic imaging system. It is anticipated that the speed of data recording will be increased by several orders of magnitude compared to current instruments. The instrument will enable new opportunities in diagnosing human cancer rapidly, in characterizing both biologic and man-made polymeric materials and for forensic sciences.

Dr. Bhargava is the recipient of a second Grainger Emerging Technologies grant awarded to Prof. Scott Carney (Electrical & Computer Engineering) and Prof. Bhargava. This second project seeks to advance optical microscopy through the marriage of two technologies: Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) vibrational spectroscopy and computed microscopy. This approach is called Computed Infrared Micro-spectroscopy (CIMS). The goal is to obtain chemically specific images of spatial structure on a cellular scale. While these systems are applicable to a wide range of sample types, the immediate and most exciting applications will be in evaluation of cancer biopsies and in non-destructive materials analysis.