Innovative Cancer Imager Earns Illinois Tech Professor Prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Illinois Tech Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Kenneth Tichauer has been awarded a prestigious NSF CAREER Award in the amount of $500,000 to perfect a medical imager that could lead to earlier detection/diagnosis and targeted drug development for cancer patients.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 1.5 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed this year. Tichauer’s project, “Development of Enhanced Early Photon Tomography for Cancer Staging,” involves the ADEPT Cancer Imager, which will enable more accurate measures of the molecular environment of an individual’s cancer. Treatment strategies can then be tailored on a personalized level—a process known as personalized medicine.

Tichauer and his ADEPT team are also the finalists of Illinois Tech’s Nayar Prize I, a $1 million prize package funded by the family foundation of an Illinois Tech alumnus. The team has built an imager prototype and has applied for a patent. Members are now collaborating with two cancer experts from the University of Chicago and Georgetown University on how to best bridge the gap between testing the ADEPT system and using it in hospitals.

“Illinois Tech and Armour College of Engineering are at forefront of the medical field without the added benefit of an official medical program,” said Dean of Engineering Natacha DePaola. “That this type of research flourishes at Illinois Tech is a testament to the quality of our faculty.”

The NSF CAREER Award is one of the agency’s top honors given to junior faculty members. The award program supports faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.