I'm a Research Assistant Professor of Engineering Sciences at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. I work in the Optics in Medicine Group at Thayer School of Engineering. My research strives to apply biotechnology--including imaging and sensing--to improve cancer surgery. Right now, I work mostly in the fluorescence-guided surgery space, where I develop smart probes that target tumors based on molecular expression. These imaging agents have the potential to dramatically improve cancer resection by highlighting cells that overexpress certain markers which are found primarily in cancer.
I am also passionate about human-centered design: how can I provide high-level information to surgeons during complicated cancer surgery, in a way that is helpful and natural. This problem intersects medical imaging, tracer kinetics, computer vision, optical engineering, physiology, oncology, molecular biology, to name a few...which is perfect, since I love to learn new things every day!Finally, I am advancing methodologies to more effectively and efficiently use this novel information in real time, so surgeons can make the best decisions on when to resect tissue, and when to spare it. This is particularily important in balancing the risk of recurrence with quality of life and morbidity due to surgery. I explore this concept in fluorescence guided surgery, as well as breast conserving surgery, and employ technologies and visualization methods to enhance contrast and support decision making based on multiparametric data, intraoperatively.
My teaching focus is on biomedical engineering for global health. I have developed, and instruct, an undergraduate survey-level course which challenges students to develop and apply skills in biomedical engineering to solve health challenges for low- and middle-income countries. I am passionate about improving the access and quality of healthcare for everyone, through research, teaching, and raising awareness of these under-researchered areas of BME.
When I'm not playing around with lasers, I am almost certainly hiking, skiing, or kicking around a ball with my two wonderful kids. I am fortunate to have the support of my wonderful wife Laura, the "high-fives" of our son, Yianni, and smiles of our daughter, Ruby, which encourage me each day. Thanks for visiting my website, where you'll find some information on my current projects. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!
Research Grants2016-2018 K99 Pathway to Independence Award (K99CA190890)
2016-2017 ZOLL Academic Industry Grant
2016-2017 Neukom Foundation Faculty CompX Award
2015-2016 Hitchcock Foundation Pilot Project Grant
2013-2015 Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship
Teaching, Mentoring and Outreach2015 - 2016 Faculty Advisor, Healthcare Policy, Innovation and Delivery Living Learning Community
2015 Faculty Advisor, Dartmouth Team in Emory Global Health Case Competition
Complete CV available upon request.
Almost 1 in 4 people will get cancer in their lifetime. When that happens, it is hoped that chemotherapy, radiation and surgery will contribute to a postivie patient outcome. I work with surgeons and other researchers to help improve the outcomes of three significant types of cancer: brain cancer, pancreatic cancer and breast cancer.
Glioma surgery is challenging because the tumor invades into the normal brain, making it difficult to know which tissue to remove. I research and design image-guided surgical tools and analytics to improve the visualization and resection of tumor during open craniotomy. I have the privlege of working with a team of world-class Dartmouth researchers who are involved in several NIH funded projects including a grant to develop a safe antibody fragment based imaging agent and a grant that enabled the construction of a intraoperative CT and MRI suite.
My research is unique in that I exploit tracer kinetic methods from PET imaging, mainly arterial input based methods, to quantify binding and kinetic parameters. These provide a direct assessment of the molecular composition and physiological status of cancer tissue. Currently I am developing the appropriate arterial input models and means by which these can be evaluated [2,3].
Another major part of my research involves understanding how information can be effectively and efficiently communicated to the surgeon during a procedure . This draws on elements of visual perception, computer vision and cognitive science, to better understand how different sources of information can be selectively attended and acted upon during resection. For example, colocalized information (such as in an image fusion) can be selectively attended to if it occupies a unique locus on a particular pereceptual dimension. This perceptual dimension can be "color", i.e., chromaticity or luminance, for example. Therefore, I seek to maximize contrast between different elements of a fused image such that perception of one aspect (the white-light image of tissue) is distinct and augmented by another aspect (the colormap representation of a kinetic parameter). I maintain an open-source MATLAB-based program to assist in developing and understanding these types of images ( http://www.dartmouth.edu/~overlay )
I'm also part of a research team looking at using targeted photosensitizing agents to improve photodynamic therapy for unresectable pancreatic cancer and oral cancer. Our most recent work is in understanding how contrast enhanced CT can be used to guide PDT has been published. 
Finally, a third area of focus is in wide field scatter-based imaging as a way of evaluating the ultrastructure of tissue in a macroscopic scale. Currently, about 35% of patients undergoing breast conserving therapy must return to the hospital for a second surgery because some tumor was left int he patient. This is because many tumors are being discovered early and are difficult to palpate (so the surgeon is cutting blind) and the histopathology cannot be performed intraoperatively due to problems with frozen section analysis of breast tissue. We have developed a rapid wide-field technique that provides contrast on the basis of scattering properties of tissue -- properties that are modified by cancer cells as they reorganize the extracellular matrix in order to expand. 
Elliott JT et al. (2014) Quantifying cerebral
blood flow in an adult pig ischemia model by a depth-resolved dynamic
contrast-enhanced optical method. Neuroimage .
The Winter 2016 term will mark the second time I have the privilege of coordinating and instructing undergraduate students in biomedical engineering for global health (ENGS16). This offering is a comprehensive, survey-level course designed to equip students with the skills necessary to develop global health technology for low- and middle-income countries. My teaching approach to this course strives to make the experience: experiential, extreme, and empowering.
Engineering forms the bridge between scientific discovery and human experience—it is by its very nature, concerned with applying the scientific process to fill a human need. Global health encapsulates the breadth of human joy (the birth of a child) and human suffering from illness and death. My goal in ENGS 16 is for each student to experience these things through discussions, lab work, group projects, case studies and tear-downs.
Paradoxically, extreme conditions can impose constraints on an engineer that will result in more creative solutions. It’s my goal to push through the everyday and mundane and challenge you to come up with solutions that are outlandish and bold. I’m guided by the principle that every human deserves health, even if they live in war-torn Afghanistan or 16,500 feet above sea level in the Peruvian Andes. These are extreme scenarios--and my goal is to curate as many of these as I can, so we can ideate, prototype and test solutions.
My goal is to run ENGS 16 very agile—perhaps an extreme idea in it’s own right. I firmly believe that the student should be in the drivers seat as much as possible. ENGS 16 will give every student the chance to develop a solution to a real global health challenge in less than 6 weeks!
Individuals living in resource-limited settings deal with diseases that are stigmatizing and poverty promoting. Global health technology can connect, educate, diagnose and monitor individuals. Rapidly deployable microcomputers can allow the end-user to hack their own solution to a health need.
ENGS 16 will also empower students. Fears waste human time, effort, and creativity we need to solve global health challenges. These include fear of the unknown, fear of making mistakes, and fear of losing control. A major goal of ENGS 16 is to employ participatory teaching methods to overcome these fears and enable the student to develop and retain knowledge and skills that can be used to make an impact into the future.
Most Recent Publications
For an up-to-date list of my publications, please visit my Google Scholar page.