Engineering-Led Team Receives $2.9 Million Grant From NIH

The tiny endoscope would use advanced optical and microfabrication technologies to create 3-D images of tumors

Irvine, Calif., Oct. 29, 2002 -- A team of UC Irvine engineers and clinicians has been awarded a $2.9 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a miniature device for the early diagnosis of lesions and tumors in internal organs like the lungs and in the digestive tract.

"The diagnosis of cancer in the early stages is the key to cancer treatment," said Zhongping Chen, associate professor of biomedical engineering and lead investigator on the study. "The imaging technology we are developing has the potential to non-invasively screen cancer in the early stages, which will bring significant benefit to cancer patients."

The diagnostic device might offer the added benefit of eliminating the need for certain invasive exploratory surgeries. The team hopes the device will be ready for clinical testing in the next two to three years.

The new imaging system will be comprised of hardware systems and image processing algorithms to enhance the clarity of images to a resolution one hundred times better than ultrasound. The project will use the state-of-the-art microfabrication equipment in the Integrated Nanosystems Research Facility and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, both located at UCI. When complete, device promises to offer high-speed imaging at a low cost, and require little power to operate.

In addition to Chen, team members include: G. P. Li and Mark Bachman, both from UCI electrical and computer engineering, Kenneth Chang, head of gastrointestinal oncology at UCI Medical Center, and Norman Tien, from electrical and computer engineering at UC Davis.