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Onco-Imaging & Biotechnology

Program Leader

Christopher C. Hughes, Ph.D.


Program Overview

The goal of the Onco-Imaging & Biotechnology (OIB) program is to develop and assess quantitative systems and technologies that improve detection, clinical management, and quality of life for cancer patients. OIB is strongly interdisciplinary, integrating basic scientists with technologists and clinicians.

Research in OIB is focused around three key themes, each of which includes basic science, technology development, and translational research activities spanning from animal models to human subjects in various malignancies, including cancers of the breast, skin, GI, oral cavity, prostate, and brain. In addition, OIB members also apply emerging technologies in multi-center and cooperative group clinical trials in order to standardize and validate methods and endpoints for improved cancer detection and clinical management.

OIB research themes are:

Theme 1: Cancer imaging and treatment using Biophotonics and Biomedical Optics technologies. »

Many of these technologies are custom-designed and fabricated within the Laser Microbeam and Medical Program (LAMMP) and the Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics (LFD), NIH P41 Biomedical Technology Centers in the Beckman Laser Institute and the Department of Biomedical Engineering. These technologies include a broad range of non-linear optical microscopies (e.g. Raman, Fluorescence, and Harmonic generation techniques), Laser Microbeams, Optical Coherence Tomography, Acousto-Optic Imaging and Elastography, Laser Speckle Imaging, Spatial Frequency Domain Imaging, and Diffuse Optical Spectroscopy and Imaging.

Theme 2: Cancer imaging and treatment using MRI, Nuclear, X-Ray, multi-Modality technologies. »

We develop and validate multi-modality imaging and spectroscopy technologies combining various approaches such as MRI-Optics, MRI-Nuclear, and X-Ray/CT platforms. The goal of multi-modality devices is to combine anatomical landmarks with molecular signatures for improved detection, determination, and prediction of therapeutic response.

Theme 3: Cancer detection and therapy using molecular, cellular, and material technologies. »

We test nano- and microfluidic technologies and integrated “lab-on-a-chip” and “body-on-a-chip” systems to advance cellular and molecular diagnostics for improved cancer detection and therapy. Importantly, the new technologies and methods for engineering cellular systems we are developing are optimized such that their integration into multi-system platforms allows visualization using many of the technologies described above. These allow us to examine the complex dynamics between cells, vasculature and extracellular matrix. These in vitro engineered tissues are used to advance our understanding of the disease process and as a test bed to determine response to therapy.

Further, OIB leadership works to leverage these technologies to improve cancer detection, clinical management and patient quality of life, specifically by:

  1. Developing novel tools for cancer detection and treatment.These tools span the technology spectrum from body-on-a-chip high-throughput drug screening platforms, through nano-scale microfluidic biomarker detectors, to non-linear optical spectroscopy, to multi-modality (optical, nuclear, MRI and X-ray/CT) technologies.
  2. Fostering multi-disciplinary collaborations to validate these tools in preclinical cancer models. OIB members collaborate extensively with basic researchers and clinician/scientists to validate new technologies in pre-clinical models that range from simple cell culture, through more complex organoid systems, to mouse models and correlative/retrospective clinical studies.
  3. Validating novel technologies in multi-center and cooperative group clinical trials. OIB has always had, and continues to have, a very strong clinical trials program, in which new technologies are rigorously tested in multi-center and cooperative group trials. Technology developed at UC Irvine has already been adopted by many clinical centers nationwide and we will continue to facilitate the adoption of newly-emerging devices and techniques.


Abi-Jaoudeh, Nadine
Acharya, Munjal
Balu, Mihaela
Barty, Christopher
Botvinick, Elliot
Butler,  John
Cahalan, Michael
Chen, Jeon Hor
Chen, Zhongping
Chow, Daniel
Combs, Freddie
Digman, Michelle
Durkin,  Anthony
Felgner, Philip
Gratton, Enrico
Guan, Zhibin
Gulsen, Gultekin
Haun, Jered
Hsu, Frank
Hughes, Christopher
Kelly, Kristen
Keyak, Joyce
Krishnam, Mayil
Kuo, Jeffrey
Kwon, Young Jik
Lee, Abraham
Longmuir, Kenneth
Mehta, Rita
Molloi, Sabee
Mukherjee, Jogeshwar
Nelson, Kari
Nelson, Edward
Prescher, Jennifer
Robertson, Richard
Su, Min-ying (Lydia)
Venugopalan, Vasan
Wang, Szu-Wen
Wilder-Smith, Petra
Wong, Brian