Clinical Cancer Research Cover Image

The May 1, 2017 issue of the publication Clinical Cancer Research features  fluorescence images of ex vivo brain tissue sections acquired by Assistant Professor Jonathan T. Elliott, PhD, of the Thayer School of Engineering.

The cover art (at left) shows images of tissue distribution of novel agent ABY-029 in green, 5-ALA-induced PpIX images in blue, and IRDye 680RD-CX in red. The distribution of these imaging agents in large F98 EGFR-positive tumors represent markers of EGFR expression, protoporphyrin metabolism and perfusion, respectively, which enable optically guided tumor identification.

LaRochelle awarded NSF Fellowship

Thayer PhD student Ethan LaRochelle received a highly-sought fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP).  Ethan’s application was chosen by NSF from more than 13,000 applications submitted this year.  A total of 2,000 fellowships were awarded to a diverse group of students at nearly 450 graduate schools in the U.S.

Since 1952, NSF’s unique GRFP has fostered economic innovation and leadership through support of master’s and doctoral degree students conducting research in STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  NSF selects applications that demonstrate potential to strengthen our nation’s science and engineering enterprise, and aims to help create a globally engaged workforce whose leaders can advance science and engineering (S&E) research and innovation.  NSF Fellows have great opportunities for international research collaboration and professional career development that have led to S&E advancement, global leadership and Nobel laureate honors.

The awardees and honorable mentions for the 2017 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program competition have been posted online.

Our heartiest congratulations to Ethan!

Dartmouth presents at SPIE Photonics West

In January 2017, researchers from the Thayer School of Engineering made more than 20 technical presentations at workshops during Photonics West, the “world’s largest photonics technologies event.” The conference is hosted by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and is held each year in San Francisco. It draws about 20,000 attendees to 4,800 workshops in three conference tracks: Biomedical Optics and Biophotonics, Laser Sources and Lasers for Manufacturing, and Optoelectronic Materials and Devices.  Here’s the rundown:

  • Jaime Bravo – “In vivo optical properties of human brain tissue.”
  • Mackenzie Carlson – “Structured light scatteroscopy through a rigid endoscope provides unique real-time contrast based on tissue ultrastructure.”  Mackenzie and Bo McClatchy – “High spatial frequency RGB modulated imaging in comparison to cross-polarized imaging.”
  • Scott Davis – “Diffuse optical tomography for in vivo 3D vascular imaging of a murine bone graft model.”
  • Ana Luiza Ribeiro de Souza – “Comparison of doses delivered in daylight versus regular light delivery in ALA-PDT in the treatment of skin cancer.”
  • Eric Henderson, MD, of DHMC, presented his invited paper, “Novel applications of near-infrared fluorescence imaging in
    orthopedic surgery.”
  • Shudong Jiang and Yan Zhao – “Breast cancer detection using non-contrast T2-weighted-MRI imaging guided near infrared spectroscopy tomography” and “A portable, 12-wavelength parallel near-infrared spectral tomography (NIRST) system for efficient characterization of breast cancer during neoadjuvant chemotherapy.”
  • Ethan Larochelle – “In vivo wide-field multispectral dosimeter for use in ALA-PpIX based photodynamic therapy.”
  • Bo McClatchy – “Sub-diffusive spatial frequency domain imaging provides widefield visualization and quantification of light scattering as an endogenous biomarker for morphological change in tissue.”  Bo and Chad Kanick – “Label-free hyperspectral dark-field microscopy for quantitative scattering imaging of tissue-mimicking phantoms” and “Combined multispectral spatial frequency domain imaging and computed tomography system for intraoperative breast tumor margin assessment.”
  • Mike Nieskoski – “Quantification of localized total tissue pressure and extracellular matrix components as related to vascular patency and verteporfin uptake within pancreatic cancer.”
  • Brian Pogue chaired a three day conference, Molecular-Guided Surgery, for the third year with Sylvain Gioux, Universite de Strasbourg (France).  The conference wrapped up with a panel discussion that Brian moderated, regarding new devices for molecularly-guided surgery.  Brian also made two technical presentations on Cherenkov-excited luminescence and Cherenkov-excited imaging.
  • Keith Paulsen presented an invited paper entitled, “Technological advances on fluorescence-guided neurosurgery.”
  • Kim Samkoe – “Quantitative imaging of intracellular signaling for personalized pancreatic cancer therapy in an in ovo avatar” and “Evaluation of semi-automated method for coregistering fresh tissue fluorescence images with histopathology slides for preclinical evaluation of molecular guided surgery agents.”
  • Thayer researchers presented these posters:
    • Jason Gunn – “Pre-clinical development and safety testing of GMP produced ABY-029,
      fluorescent anti-EGFR affibody, for use in surgical resection.”
    • Kayla Marra – “Pre-clinical evaluation of fluorescent ABY-029 in 3 mouse sarcoma models, to assess enhanced contrast in fluorescence guided surgery relative to fluorescent perfusion contrast.”
    • “Review of fluorescence guided surgery systems: identification of key performance capabilities beyond ICG imaging.”
    • “Dexamethasone enhances 5-ALA/PpIX contrast but degrades ABY-029 contrast at glioma margins during fluorescence guided resection.”


Hasan Photodynamic Therapy Program retreat

Tayyaba Hasan and Brian Pogue in conference.

Researchers from Thayer spent the day prior to the SPIE Photonics West conference at a Photodynamic Therapy Program retreat with colleagues from the Wellman Center for Photomedicine/Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University (the project’s leaders), the Mayo Clinic, University College London, and the Cleveland Clinic.

The program is split into three Cores and four Projects, with aims to conduct research on combined PDT therapies for skin cancer and pancreatic and biliary tract cancer, conduct imaging and tomography, image and model guided dosimetry, and feedback the results for continued improvement.  This retreat was just one of many held over the past several years.

We videoconferenced with other program staff in Boston (at right).

And we reported progress in each program area (at left).



Steve Pereira (University College London) and Ken Wang (Mayo Clinic) discuss clinical trials using combined PDT therapy.


Table for 20 please

We always enjoy a meal of Indian food together, with Tayyaba guiding the way.  It’s hard to beat the cuisine in San Francisco!

Henderson’s NCCC Prouty Pilot award for ABY-029

Congratulations  to Dr. Eric Henderson, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Geisel School and Program Director for DHMC’s Sarcoma & Connective Tissue Oncology program, for his recent $100k award from the Norris Cotton Cancer Center Developmental Funds, a Prouty Pilot Project.

The award will support a Clinical Research study using ABY-029  in a small number of subjects with Non-Metastatic Soft-Tissue Sarcoma.  Sarcomas are cancers of bone, muscle, and fat that require complete surgical removal for their cure.  In sarcoma surgery, the goal is to completely remove the tumor with a small margin of normal tissue surrounding it, while leaving in place vital structures.  For the last 30 years, surgeons have relied on radiologic imaging and visual/tactile clues to gauge tumor depth, an imperfect practice.    To provide surgeons with knowledge of the tumor margin thickness in real time would be an important advance.

ABY-029 is a novel fluorescent marker created through an NIH-funded Academic-Industrial Partnership championed by Thayer School Investigators Brian Pogue and Keith Paulsen.  Following FDA approval, the sarcoma study will be the second study to use ABY-029 in humans.  Thayer researchers are also working toward approval to use the drug in a third study involving subjects with head and neck cancers.



Elliott awarded NCI K99 grant for Molecularly Guided Surgery

Jonathan Elliott, PhD, was awarded a “Pathway to Independence” grant from the National Cancer Institute in August 2016.  Entitled “Molecularly Guided Surgery for Improved Resection of Glioblastoma Multiforme,” the grant project aims to accelerate Professor Elliott’s promising research career by building upon Dartmouth’s ongoing work in fluorescence-guided surgery (FGS) with ABY-029, the agent approved by FDA for a first-in-human clinical trial.  These two-year grants are given to outstanding postdoctoral researchers to help them advance to tenure-track or equivalent faculty positions.  Funds support Dr. Elliott’s mentored-training program with a core group of NIH-funded researchers at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC), including Dr. David Roberts, with Professors Keith Paulsen and Brian Pogue at the Thayer School of Engineering, and Dr. Jack Hoopes in the Geisel School of Medicine. Professor Elliott will conduct a pre-clinical research project to develop and evaluate a new approach to molecular-guided surgery – intraoperative receptor concentration imaging (iRCI).