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Christopher Contag to receive SPIE Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award for bioluminescence imaging

Molecular imaging pioneer will be honored at SPIE Photonics West

31 October 2016

... passion for unraveling cancer biology and
ability to recognize unmet needs and create new tools to solve them ....
Christopher Contag, 2017 Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award winner

Christopher Contag

BELLINGHAM, Washington, and CARDIFF, UK — Molecular imaging pioneer Christopher Contag 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, has announced.

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.

Contag will accept the award at SPIE Photonics West, the world's largest multidisciplinary event focusing on Photonics technologies, in San Francisco in January, and give a talk on his work during the BiOS Hot Topics session. A frequent contributor to the event, he has authored more than three dozen proceedings papers in the SPIE Digital Library, and nearly 20 articles in the Journal of Biomedical Optics, published by SPIE.

Contag has been appointed founding director of the Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering at Michigan State University and the inaugural chair of the recently established Biomedical Engineering Department there.

He will become professor emeritus at Stanford University where he had been associate chief of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine, director of Stanford’s Center for Innovation in In Vivo Imaging (SCI3), and co-director of the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS). He was 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.

Contag’s lab at Stanford 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 laboratory now develops macroscopic and microscopic optical imaging tools that have enabled 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 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.

About SPIE

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science, engineering and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library. In 2015, SPIE provided more than $5.2 million in support of education and outreach programs. www.spie.org


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