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Congratulations to Our 2012 Award Recipients!

First Place Recipients

Norman Edmund Inspiration Award First Place Americas, Rice University

Americas — $10,000 in Products
Rice University, USA — Submitted by Tomasz Tkaczyk

2012 Norman Edmund Inspiration Award Winner!
Received an additional $5,000 in products | Learn More

For the development of a variety of optical imaging and detection techniques targeting chemistry, applied physics, nanosciences, and advanced biomedical engineering. Advancements are being made to miniature microscope objectives and endomicroscopy systems for in vivo detection of cancer and infectious diseases. Tkaczyk's early designs and prototypes have been developed and tested for the medical community in partnerships with a variety of medical centers and colleges of medicine. In addition, the design provides a low cost, portable and self-aligning optical system for quick and easy deployment. The microscopy systems have already shed a great deal of light and information on ailments such as tuberculosis and malaria, which pose serious health problems in a number of countries around the world.

First Place Asia, Nanyang Technological University

Asia — $10,000 (USD) in Products
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore — Submitted by Dr. Quan Liu

For developing new optical biopsy methods based on optical imaging and spectroscopy. These methods can non-invasively characterize the pathological status of tissues for medical diagnostics to reduce or even remove the need of performing physical biopsies. Through his research, Liu and his team aim to incorporate other complementary techniques such as elastography, nanotechnology enabled plasmonics and ultrasound imaging into optical imaging and spectroscopy. This will enhance the accuracy and capability of optical biopsy methods by improving the signal to noise ratio, spatial resolution and multiplexing to more effectively detect and classify tumors. In addition to the optical biopsy development, the team at NTU also performs research to transfer these powerful optical techniques from bench-to-bedside.

First Place Europe, University of Zurich

Europe — €7,000 in Products
University of Zurich, Switzerland — Submitted by David Margolis

For developing new techniques in biological imaging and cellular resolution imaging of the living animal to better understand fundamental questions of brain function and dysfunction. These new techniques integrate fast wide-field imaging methods (epifluorescence based) with laser-scanning two-photon microscopy providing new insight into the stability and plasticity of cellular activity that previously has not been possible to investigate. Margolis' research is dedicated to designing and implementing new optical tools for chronic in vivo imaging of the exact same neurons, over long periods of time, and multiple imaging sessions with the goal to develop and advance brain cancer diagnostics.

Second Place Recipients

Second Place Americas, Indiana University

Americas — $7,500 in Products
Indiana University, USA — Submitted by Ann Elsner

For the advancement of biomedical imaging, which utilizes technologies such as Optical Coherence Tomography, Adaptive Optics, and specific polarization techniques in the study of age-related macular degeneration and other ailments of the eye. Age related macular degeneration is one of many primary causes to blindness and is a serious issue in today's world. Elsner and her team are developing low cost retinal imagers to detect diabetic retinopathy, another serious ailment, which may ultimately lead to blindness and other complications. Optical coherence tomography allows the researcher to acquire rudimentary images of the retina and cornea non-invasively. Adaptive optics control variances in the pupil, along with differences in the individual's eye shape, and ultimately optimizes the information from the various regions of the eye and focus on the more critical areas. Polarization control is critical to differentiate various tissues, such as a healthy region from an area which requires treatment. The combination of these three techniques provides an extremely innovative method of detection quickly and non-invasively.

Second Place Asia, Osaka University

Asia — 7,500 (USD) in Products
Osaka University (大阪大学), Japan — Submitted by Hayashi Jun

For research on the ignition process of flammable mixed gases under the elevated pressure atmosphere or emission reductions to improve the environment condition. Dr. Hayashi's research involves focusing a pulse laser to cause laser-induced breakdown to create non-equilibrium plasma that can ignite flammable mixed gas. While this is in a fundamental research phase, study results are expected to have worldwide recognition due to an increased interest in laser ignition systems. This system is aided by high speed imaging for the capture, analysis, and modeling of spontaneous combustion. This research is critical for understanding reactions of gases and materials that can be applied to a number of applications including biofuels and energy, and plays a role in safer handling procedures.

Second Place Europe, University of Marburg

Europe — €5,000 in Products
University of Marburg, Germany — Submitted by Kirstin Baum

For developing an integrated 3D diffuse optical tomography (DOT) scanner and innovative 3D-surface reconstruction method to enable an easy operation of the DOT scanner by technicians without the need for advanced optical knowledge. DOT imaging scanners commonly used for pre-clinical cancer research, small animal imaging, and breast cancer imaging, propagates infrared light within tissue which is analyzed by inverse reconstruction techniques so that absorption and scattering parameters can be estimated. With Baum's technique, it is possible to separate information from the surface from that of the subsurface using Polarization Difference Imaging (PDI) in combination with structured light 3D scanning. Thus, the actual surface shape can be determined. This new approach integrates a fringe projection technique, typically used in industrial applications, to obtain a surface scan which provides a more exact description of the orientation of surface elements from semi-transparent objects towards the detector. Images are then modeled together, via software, for analysis.

Third Place Recipients

Third Place America, Harvey Mudd College

Americas — $5,000 in Products
Harvey Mudd College, USA — Submitted by Gregory Lyzenga

For the remote detection of microbial life in space using laser induced fluorescence imaging and Raman spectroscopy (LIFIRS). Students and faculty have developed a novel non-destructive, non-contact optical device capable of rapidly generating reflectance and fluorescence images. These systems are being developed and integrated for a pair of autonomous rovers specifically designed for exploration of lava tubes on Mars. This technology is currently being implemented on Earth for related research in our extreme environments such as deserts, mountains or the artic poles in order to calibrate and identify the potential presence of proteins and bacteria in extreme environments, prior to deployment on Mars. This same technology can also be used to detect pathogens and chemical substances aiding in global forensic and counter terrorisms efforts.

Third Place Asia, National Yang-Ming University

Asia — $5,000(USD) in Products
National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan — Submitted by Yin Chang

For developing an in vivo fiber-optic spectroscopy technique which targets the detection of epidural space in the spine. This new technique could replace the traditional method of inserting a needle into the epidural space and feeling by hand during anesthesiology, a procedure which has been common for almost half a century. Chang's technique is built upon the principle that any tissue has its own characteristic reflectance spectrum, in vivo, thus creating a unique tissue "finger print." By using the technology of fiber-optic spectroscopy in this project, the epidural needle can be accurately placed into the epidural space for localized anesthesia. Chang has modified the solid style needle used currently in epidurals, and created a hollow needle equipped with optical fibers. A portion of the fibers serve as a light transmission channel directing light from a source to the tissue during the needle insertion. The remaining fibers serve to receive the reflected light from the tissue and transmit it to a spectrometer. The spectral signal is shown on a screen providing a visual reference with which the anesthesiologist can guide the placement of the needle.

Third Place Europe, Vienna University of Technology

Europe — €3,000 in Products
Vienna University of Technology, Austria — Submitted by Saiedeh Saghafi

For creating an efficient Light Sheet Microscopy/Ultramicroscopy using an innovative beam shaping method of turning a Gaussian beam into an elliptical beam with flattened Gaussian intensity distribution. This beam, used in Saghafi's technique, provides 3D non-destructive sectioning and imaging of a large sample such as tumor, entire mouse brain, embryo, as well as, small samples such as, neurons and spines with micrometer resolution. Ultramicroscopy is becoming an increasingly common technique in neuroscience research with high potential in medical diagnostics for cancer and neurological disease detection. The image quality in Ultramicroscopy depends on the shape and quality of the light sheet and this innovative method allows significant improvement in the optical characteristics of the light sheet, including the length and diameter of the line of focus and spatial intensity distribution along the light sheet.

Congratulations to Our Remaining 2012 Grant Finalists!

Americas Finalists

Asia Finalists

Europe Finalists

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