Weinbaum Lecture: Fluorescence-Guided Cancer Surgery For Global Health: From Bench to Bedside

Samuel Achilefu, Ph.D.
Professor & Chair, Biomedical Engineering
University of Texas Southwestern
Isermann Auditorium, CBIS, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Thu, April 04, 2024 at 2:00 PM
Reception to follow

Surgeons still rely on vision and touch to distinguish cancerous from healthy tissue, often leading to incomplete tumor removal that necessitates repeat surgery or favors relapse. To address these issues, we have developed Cancer Viewing Glasses (CVGs) that can provide real-time intraoperative visualization of tumors and sentinel lymph nodes without disrupting the surgical workflow. The CVGs were designed to detect near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) from cancer-targeting molecular probes. Both NIRF and normal visible light used in the operating room are projected to a head-mounted display. The optical see-through CVGs prototype allows direct visual access to the surgical field while projecting NIRF to the eyes under normal operating room light conditions. Aided by a new tumor-targeted NIR fluorescent molecular probe capable of accumulating in most solid tumors, CVGs provided real-time image guidance for complete tumor resection in subcutaneous and metastatic mouse models and cancer patients. Ongoing clinical studies demonstrate that combining light, molecules, and CVG enhances high throughput surgery with improved accuracy.

Dr. Samuel Achilefu

Dr. Samuel Achilefu is the inaugural chair and professor of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) in Dallas. He is the Lyda Hill Distinguished University Chair and a professor of radiology and the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. Before joining UTSW in February 2022, Dr. Achilefu spent over 20 years at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, where he was the inaugural Michel M. Ter-Pogossian professor of radiology and served as the vice chair for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, director of the Center for Multiple Myeloma Nanotherapy, and director of the Washington University  Molecular Imaging Center.

Dr. Samuel Achilefu is an expert in the molecular imaging of human diseases, utilizing multimodal imaging methods to address imaging challenges, focusing on optical imaging platforms. His current research interests include image-guided cancer surgery, portable imaging devices, and nanotechnology. Through a multidisciplinary team of investigators, he has guided multiple research endeavors from concept to clinic.

Dr. Achilefu is an inventor of 69 U.S. patents, published over 300 scientific papers, and received over 30 local, national, and international honors and awards for research excellence, including the first Distinguished Investigator Award (Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program), the Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award, and the St. Louis Award. He is a fellow of many professional societies, including the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, SPIE, Optica (formerly OSA), the Royal Society of Chemistry, AAAS, and the Royal Society of Medicine. Dr. Achilefu is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Inventors, and the National Advisory Council for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.