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Inaugural $75,000 SPIE-Franz Hillenkamp Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded to Dr. Haley Marks

Annual award supports interdisciplinary problem-driven research and provides opportunities for translating new technologies into clinical practice for improving human health.

17 January 2018

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA, and CARDIFF, UK - SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, has announced Dr. Haley Marks as the first recipient of the SPIE-Franz Hillenkamp Postdoctoral Fellowship in Problem-Driven Biophotonics and Biomedical Optics. 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.

A postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Conor Evans' lab at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (USA), Dr. Marks will continue her work on a luminescent oxygen-sensing, drug-releasing bandage that provides quantitative visual feedback for clinical treatment guidance. The bandage, called SMART for Sensing, Monitoring, And Release of Therapeutics, tracks tissue oxygenation by changing color and is designed to even administer drugs. Dr. Marks will have the benefit of co-mentorship under this grant from both Dr. Evans, for research, and Dr. Gabriela Apiou, for translational sciences.

Dr. Haley Marks, 2018 SPIE-Hillenkamp Fellow

Upon being notified of the fellowship, Marks commented how meaningful it was coming from SPIE, having served as president of the SPIE Student Chapter at Texas A&M while earning her Ph.D.

"I have always felt a strong kinship with SPIE and its mission through my involvement with the Student Chapter and K-12 outreach programs," said Marks. "Receiving this fellowship award will allow me to bring a medical device to market where it can have meaningful use in human patients. I am excited to gain a more critical understanding of the tools required to translate optical technologies like this bandage."

The award will be presented to Marks during the BiOS Hot Topics event, part of SPIE Photonics West, on Saturday, 27 of January. Marks will also be presenting related research at SPIE Photonics West. Her presentation, entitled "An oxygen-sensing phosphorescent liquid bandage for post-operative flap monitoring", will be on Sunday, 28 January in a session on luminescence methods for clinical applications.

The inaugural Hillenkamp Fellowship Committee, comprised of representatives from twelve of the top biomedical optics research and medical laboratories and chaired by SPIE Fellow R. Rox Anderson, director of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, had a difficult job choosing a recipient.

"The Fellowship committee was pleased with the diversity and potential of all of the applicants, and are thrilled for this annual program to begin," said Anderson, who is also co-chair of SPIE BiOS, part of Photonics West.  "Dr. Marks' research will directly impact an area of widespread need and is an excellent example of the interdisciplinary nature of biomedical optics. I am excited to see her work progress in wound assessment and look forward to seeing it translate into practice."

Honoring the career of medical laser pioneer Franz Hillenkamp, the SPIE-Hillenkamp Fellowship is a partnership with four international biomedical laboratories - the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, the Manstein Lab in the Cutaneous Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, Medical Laser Center Lübeck and the Beckman Laser Institute at University of California, Irvine - and the Hillenkamp family. The endowment is funded through generous donations from the biomedical optics community, with SPIE contributing matching funds up to $1 million.

Applications for the 2019 cycle will be open summer 2018. More details about the SPIE-Franz Hillenkamp Fellowship are at www.spie.org/Hillenkamp.