Graduate Researcher

Tumor tissue boundary detection is critical to success during oncological surgery, and is particularly important in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a high-grade glioma with low median survival. During GBM procedures, the ability of the surgeon to completely remove the tumor depends on how well it can be distinguished from surrounding healthy brain tissue.  In collaboration with mentor Kevin Eliceiri, Morgridge Medical Engineering; Jamey Weichert, Radiology; and John Kuo, Neurological Surgery we are characterizing the spectral components of novel fluorescent probes developed by Madison-based company Cellectar Biosciences using a customized, optimized LED-based imaging platform in the Medical Engineering wet lab. These probes can selectively enter the lipid rafts of over forty tumor cell types, allowing us to potentially distinguish tumors from normal tissue in the brain, as well as visualize metabolism and collagen fiber structure. Our goal is to complement lifetime images of an intrinsically fluorescent biomarker for metabolism – nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) – with collagen and Cellectar Bioscience’s 1500-class of CLR probes in mouse models of GBM to help identify tumor margins. Ultimately, we hope to explore tumor extent in the context of tumor microenvironment to understand patient prognosis.