Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering and of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Dean of Engineering Special Lecture:
Engineering Sustainable Innovations to Prevent Cancer
Thursday, February 19, 2009
4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
McMurtry Auditorium Duncan Hall
In the next 20 years, the number of global deaths due to cancer will double, largely because of increases in cancer incidence in low- and middle-income countries. Detecting cancer before metastasis begins dramatically improves the odds of survival; when detected late, cancer treatment is less effective, has greater morbidity, and is more expensive. Early detection is the best and most cost-effective means to improve survival and quality of life for patients with cancer. While improvements in early detection have helped reduce cancer mortality in the US by 8% since 1975, the enormous potential of early detection has yet to be realized. Furthermore, the benefits of early detection are not universally available. Cancer patients in the US who are uninsured or who have Medicaid insurance are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage and have significantly lower survival rates than do patients with private insurance. At a time when the global incidence of cancer is rapidly increasing and 47 million Americans lack health insurance, there is an urgent need for effective and affordable tools and technologies to facilitate early detection and prevention of cancer.
This talk will describe an international collaboration to develop inexpensive, rugged, and portable optical molecular imaging systems to aid in the early detection and molecular characterization of cancer. Integrating advances in micro-optical engineering, nanotechnology, genomics, and drug delivery, molecular imaging systems provide the ability to monitor and quantify molecular, morphologic, and architectural biomarkers of early cancer and its precursors. Collaborations in Houston, New York, Brazil, India and Botswana are now underway to optimize and translate these high-performance, low-cost, optical molecular imaging platforms to improve global cancer prevention efforts.
In parallel, we have developed multidisciplinary educational programs to train students to participate in interdisciplinary global research efforts. With support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, we formed a new undergraduate concentration called Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB). The BTB program brings together science, engineering, policy, social science and humanities undergraduates to address health care design problems in developing countries. In creating solutions to real world challenges, students are challenged to think beyond traditional disciplinary and geographic boundaries. The program spans the freshman to senior level, and students have the opportunity to travel to the international site to test their solution in collaboration with partner scientists and clinicians.
This talk celebrates the election of Rebecca Richards-Kortum to the National Academy of Engineering.