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Contag wins SPIE Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award

02 Nov 2016

Stanford's molecular imaging pioneer to be honored for his bioluminescence work at next Photonics West expo.

Molecular imaging pioneer Christopher Contag of Stanford University has been named as recipient of the 2017 Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award, the Awards Committee for SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, announced this week.

The prestigious award is presented annually in recognition of outstanding lifetime contributions to the field of biomedical optics through the development of innovative, high-impact technologies. Dr Contag will accept the award at SPIE Photonics West, in San Francisco in January, and give a talk on his work during the BiOS Hot Topics session.

A frequent contributor to this event, Contag has authored more than three dozen proceedings papers in the SPIE Digital Library, and nearly 20 articles in SPIE’s Journal of Biomedical Optics.

Bioluminescent imaging

Dr Contag is associate chief of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine at Stanford University, director of Stanford’s Center for Innovation in In Vivo Imaging, and co-director of the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford. He is also a professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Radiology, and Microbiology and Immunology, and a member of Bio-X faculty for interdisciplinary sciences, and the Immunology faculty.

His lab was the first to use biological sources of light to image key biological processes in living mammals. This work included the first in vivo bioluminescent images (BLI) of bacterial infection, gene expression patterns, stem cell biology, cancer growth and transplantation biology of solid organs and responses to therapy. The lab now develops macroscopic and microscopic optical imaging tools that have enable in vivo studies of drug targets and agents such that every large drug company now uses BLI to accelerate drug development.

In its citation, the SPIE Awards Committee commended Dr Contag for “his significant changes to the way we study biology in living tissue through his invention of in vivo optical imaging using bioluminescent and fluorescent reporters. This invention is one of the most significant advances in biomedical research in recent history,” the citation noted.

“Dr. Contag’s passion for unraveling cancer biology and his ability to recognize unmet needs and create new tools to solve them makes him an extraordinary candidate for the Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award,” said Anna Moore, professor of radiology and director of the Molecular Imaging Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, in support of Contag’s nomination.

Further information

Dr. Contag is a pioneer in the field of molecular imaging and is developing imaging approaches aimed at revealing molecular processes in living subjects and advancing therapeutic strategies by imaging.

His laboratory develops micro- and macroscopic imaging tools to assess tissue responses to stress, reveal immune cell migration patterns, understand stem cell biology and advance biological therapies.

For the purpose of studying tumor biology in vivo, the Contag group is developing advanced microscopic tools to study cancer at high resolution. These approaches use micro-optics to develop miniaturized cofocal microscopes and Raman endoscopes that can reach inside the body to interrogate disease states.

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