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Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Bhargava env portrait
Rohit Bhargava

Rohit Bhargava, a Founder Professor of Engineering and Chemistry at Illinois, has received an Agilent Thought Leader Award in recognition of his pioneering work in the development of infrared spectroscopic imaging, and its application to life sciences research.

Bhargava is a professor of bioengineering, with laboratories at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. He is also the founder and director of the Cancer Community at Illinois program, which will be renamed the Illinois Cancer Center in early 2017. His work in the advancement of novel chemical-imaging technologies includes developing infrared spectroscopy modalities and demonstrating how they apply to cancer detection, diagnosis and prognosis.

The Agilent Thought Leader Award, which includes funding and technology from Agilent, will enable Bhargava to develop new applications and software to facilitate infrared analysis of histological samples, in particular for cancer detection and diagnosis.

“We are grateful to Agilent for this support,” Bhargava said. “This relationship will allow us to work together to further establish the field of digital molecular pathology using infrared imaging.”

Chad Hoke, Director, Emerging Technologies, Agilent; Andrew Hind, General Manager, Molecular Spectroscopy, Agilent; Rohit Bhargava; Jack Wenstrand, Sr. Director, University Relations, Agilent

“We are delighted to support Dr. Bhargava’s research toward migrating infrared spectroscopic imaging from the lab to the clinic,” said Philip Binns, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s Spectroscopy and Vacuum Solutions Division. “Dr. Bhargava is well-positioned to lead the development of new biomedical applications of Agilent’s recently announced high-speed Laser Direct Infrared Imaging (LDIR) technology.”

The Agilent Thought Leader Award Program promotes fundamental scientific advances by contributing financial support, products and expertise to the research of influential thought leaders in the life sciences, diagnostics and applied chemical markets. Information about previous award recipients is available on the Agilent Thought Leader Program webpage.

The National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health has awarded a new four-year grant of more than $1.6 million to University of Illinois Beckman Institute researchers for development of innovative cancer imaging.

In most cancers, especially in prostate cancer, it is difficult to predict if a diagnosed tumor will actually prove dangerous. This lack of precision in charting the course of the cancer means that many people who may benefit from a milder form of treatment are over-treated, leading to losses in quality of life and great financial cost to society. Currently there are no good methods to predict whether a specific tumor is dangerous.

Rohit Bhargava
Rohit Bhargava

Researchers in the lab of Rohit Bhargava, professor of bioengineering and member of Beckman’s Bioimaging Science and Technology Group, have proposed a new imaging method to determine the risk of lethal prostate cancer upon initial diagnosis. The project, “3D Prostate Histochemometry to Predict Disease Recurrence,” has been awarded $1,606,899 over four years by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health. Bhargava is an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

The research relies on utilizing a new chemical imaging technology based on Raman spectroscopy to record data from tissues. The spectral data will be related to cell type and its chemical changes in a case-control cohort of patients designed to be from the most difficult 70 percent of contemporary prostate cancers diagnosed today.

“While past methods have focused on epithelial cells, our group plans to comprehensively profile all cell types as well as the extra-cellular matrix through this one measurement,” Bhargava said. “Our previous work has shown that both the tumor and its microenvironment can determine tumor growth, but there was no easy way to measure their contributions. Now the properties of each component of tissue will be used to characterize the disease with the new chemical imaging technology.”

Using the newly developed chemical imaging technology, in combination with an examination of the tumor microenvironment, the study will compare the results with existing standards in order to predict the chance of prostate cancer recurrence.

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