Biomedical Optics Award

Christopher Contag to receive 2017 SPIE Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award.

01 January 2017

photo of Chris Contag, recipient of the 2017 SPIE Britton Chance Biomedical Optics AwardMolecular imaging pioneer Christopher Contag, the founding director of a new biomedical research institute at Michigan State University (USA), has been named recipient of the 2017 SPIE Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award.

The 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, whose lab at Stanford University (USA) was the first to use biological sources of light to image key biological processes in living mammals, is being recognized for his invention of in vivo optical imaging using bioluminescent and fluorescent reporters.

These bioluminescent images (BLI) of bacterial infection, gene expression patterns, cancer growth, and other biological processes paved the way for the development of macroscopic and microscopic optical imaging tools to enable in vivo studies of drug targets and agents. The tools have significantly impacted the fields of oncology, regenerative medicine, and stem-cell biology and have resulted in virtually every pharmaceutical and biotechnology company now using BLI to accelerate drug development.

Contag will accept the award at SPIE Photonics West 2017 in San Francisco and will give a talk on his work during the BiOS Hot Topics session 28 January.

A frequent contributor to Photonics West, he has authored more than three dozen SPIE conference papers on medical imaging and other areas of biophotonics and nearly 20 articles in the Journal of Biomedical Optics.

Contag was named director of the new Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering at Michigan State last year. He leads an interdisciplinary team of researchers whose goals are to build tools to understand complex biological processes and develop new therapies for cancer and other diseases.

He will become professor emeritus at Stanford, where he was a faculty member in the pediatrics, radiology, bioengineering, microbiology, and immunology departments and held the titles of associate chief of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine; director of Stanford’s Center for Innovation in In Vivo Imaging; and co-director of the Molecular Imaging Program.

He earned an undergraduate degree in biology and a PhD in microbiology at University of Minnesota (USA).

Referring to Contag’s “passion for unraveling cancer biology and his ability to recognize unmet needs and create new tools to solve them,” Anna Moore, professor of radiology and director of the Molecular Imaging Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital (USA), called Contag an “extraordinary” candidate for the Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award.

The Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award is presented annually by SPIE in recognition of outstanding lifetime contributions to the field of biomedical optics through the development of innovative, high impact technologies. The award particularly honors pioneering contributions to optical methods and devices that have facilitated advancements in biology or medicine.

Read more about SPIE Awards and Photonics West 2017 in SPIE Professional. 

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