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2023 SPIE-Franz Hillenkamp Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded to Arutyun Bagramyan

22 Nov 2022

$75,000 annual award will support Bagramyan’s research into non-invasive imaging.

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, has announced Arutyun Bagramyan, who received his PhD in physics and biomedical engineering from Laval University, Quebec, Canada, in 2020, as the winner of the 2023 SPIE-Franz Hillenkamp Postdoctoral Fellowship in Problem-Driven Biomedical Optics and Analytics.

The annual award of $75,000 supports interdisciplinary problem-driven research and provides opportunities for translating new technologies into clinical practice for improving human health. Bagramyan will be recognized at the SPIE BiOS Hot Topics event during Photonics West, scheduled for 29 January 2023.

Bagramyan’s postdoctoral research — conducted in conjunction with Principal Investigator Charles Lin at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Boston, Ma., — will focus on the development of a miniature oblique black-illumination microscope for real-time, non-invasive imaging of white blood cells in human microvasculature.

Aim: early diagnosis of infection in neonates

The clinical device is expected to benefit one of the most vulnerable populations of patients — neonates — by alleviating the need for blood extraction (phlebotomy), while enabling preventative monitoring of the immune system for early diagnosis of infection and for any abnormal immune-system functioning that might induce inflammation.

The aim is an immediate clinical improvement that will relieve prematurely born infants from repeated phlebotomy and prevent life-threatening medical complications such as septic shock. Bagramyan will be presenting this project during SPIE Photonics West in January.

“Receiving the SPIE-Franz Hillenkamp Fellowship is an extraordinary opportunity for me to continue working on a fascinating translational project with a potentially far-reaching medical impact,” said Bagramyan. “I hope that one day, clinicians will use our instrument for safe daily diagnosis of inflammation in prematurely born neonates, without inducing pain or drawing blood. I thank the Society for this award.”

“This is a very exciting proposal from an excellent scientist working in a lab highly renowned for pioneering biomedical optics research,” said the Co-Chairs of the Hillenkamp Fellowship Committee Rox Anderson and Gabriela Apiou.

They added, “Arutyun's work is poised to make a real impact in neonatal care, and medicine in general. By rapidly and non-invasively counting white blood cells, it will reduce the need for drawing blood. Activation of leukocytes is central to many life-threatening conditions. Beyond simply counting them, the ability to detect their state of activation, without even taking a blood sample, is unprecedented.”

Honoring the career of medical laser pioneer Franz Hillenkamp, the SPIE-Hillenkamp Fellowship is a partnership between multiple international biomedical laboratories — the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, the Beckman Laser Institute, the Manstein Lab in the Cutaneous Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, Medical Laser Center Lübeck, and Boston University — and the Hillenkamp family. The endowment is funded through generous donations from the biomedical optics community, with SPIE contributing matching funds up to $1.5 million.

Applications for the 2024 SPIE-Hillenkamp Fellowship will open in the Spring of 2023.

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