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Medical Engineering Distinguished Seminar Series, Professor Christopher Contag

Thursday, April 20, 2023
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Annenberg 105
Advances in Imaging and Sensing are Redefining Health and Disease
Christopher H. Contag, Ph.D., James and Kathleen Cornelius Endowed Chair, Director, Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University,

Innovations in imaging and sensing tools have catalyzed a paradigm shift in animal models of human biology and disease by enabling detection and visualization of the very small changes that precede the onset of symptoms. Traditionally disease has been defined at the time a patient becomes symptomatic, however, the advances in animal models has led to the development of clinical tools and methods for monitoring health and disease in humans that can detect changes early and even predict risk years or decades prior to symptoms. As these tools for assessing health risk are improving and are applied clinically, the threshold between health and disease will need to be redefined. If we use cancer as an example, many of the earlier technologies for cancer screening lacked the sensitivity for early detection at times when therapy would be most effective, and could not detect minimal residual disease that persists after conventional therapies. Methods that sense and then visualize small numbers of cancer initiating cells are being developed that can shift the limits of detection from 1 cm to 1 mm or even 100 µm diameter masses. Optical imaging has the sensitivity for this level of detection and there are a number of recent advances that will enable the use of optics in the clinic for cancer detection. New instruments based on micro-optical designs can be used to reach in the body to reveal microanatomic and molecular detail that are indicators of early cancers. We are advancing the technologies that enable miniaturization of 3-D scanning confocal microscopes, Raman endoscopes and new optical designs to examine tissue in situ for early anatomic and molecular indicators of disease, in real time, and at cellular resolution. Advances in genomics are identifying markers of risk that can be used years or even decades prior to the onset of disease, and by identifying at-risk populations, the new tools in imaging can be used to determine early onset and optimize intervention. The emerging combinations of risk assessment tools, methods for early detection and prognostication, and instruments that reveal disease states in finer detail serve to provide greater information to clinicians for more informed, and directed therapies. These advances are redefining the threshold that separates health from disease with the potential to change healthcare.

Biography: Dr. Contag is the inaugural chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and founding Director of the Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering at Michigan State University. Dr. Contag joined the faculty of Michigan State University in 2017 as the James and Kathleen Cornelius Chair in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, with an adjunct appointment in the Center for Bioethics and Social Justice at MSU. Dr. Contag is also Professor emeritus in the Department of Pediatrics at Stanford University. Dr. Contag received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul in 1982. He received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis in 1988. He did his postdoctoral training at Stanford University from 1990-1994, and then joined Stanford faculty in 1995 where he was professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Radiology, Bioengineering and Microbiology & Immunology until 2016. Dr. Contag is a pioneer in the field of molecular imaging and is developing imaging approaches aimed at revealing cellular and molecular processes in living subjects, including humans, and advancing therapeutic strategies through imaging. He is a founding member and past president of the Society for Molecular Imaging (SMI), and recipient of the Achievement Award from the SMI for his contributions to imaging, and the Britton Chance Award from SPIE for his fundamental contributions to optics. Dr. Contag is a Fellow of the World Molecular Imaging Society (WMIS) and the recent past President of WMIS. Dr. Contag was a founder of Xenogen Corp. (now part of PerkinElmer) established to commercialize innovative imaging tools for biomedicine. He is also a founder of BioEclipse—a cancer therapy company, PixelGear—a point-of-care pathology company, and EXOForce—a company developing exoskeletons for athletics and military applications. https://scholars.msu.edu/scholar/stack/8758/CHRISTOPHER-CONTAG?unitId=730&unitType=2

Hosted by Professor Lihong Wang.

For more information, please contact Christine Garske by email at [email protected] or visit https://mede.caltech.edu/seminars.