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Blinking Microbubbles Win at Research Expo

What if you could build a bridge between optical imaging and ultrasound imaging? Could you harness the chemical sensitivity of visible light and the tissue penetrating properties of ultrasound? These kinds of questions drive Carolyn Schutt, a graduate student in bioengineering, who is developing a new imaging technique that could lead to highly-sensitive light imaging deeper inside the body, improving the way we diagnose breast cancer. Schutt's research, which she entered in the nanoengineering category, received the grand prize April 12 at Research Expo, the annual research and networking event of the Jacobs School.

Carolyn Schutt
Bioengineering graduate student Carolyn Schutt won the Jacobs Schoolwide Rudee Outstanding Poster Award for her research into a new imaging technique for breast cancer research.

Schutt's “blinking” gas-filled microbubble contrast agents would render biological tissue effectively transparent to light and enable highly sensitive light imaging deeper inside the body, improving cancer dianosis technologies.

Conventional X-ray mammography can only show the density of tissue, indicating the presence of a mass, but cannot determine any of the biochemical differences between a benign mass and a malignant tumor such as hypoxia or increased blood vessel formation.

“There is a very high false positive rate with just X-ray mammography,” said Schutt, who won the Jacobs School-wide Rudee Outstanding Poster Award. “By being able to extract chemical information we hope to avoid unnecessary biopsies that are done on benign lesions.”

Schutt's work is advised by professor Sadik Esener.

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