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Media Advisory 07-022

Experts to Discuss New Approach to Cancer Detection

Call-in program on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007, at 2 p.m. ET

Light is showing promise as a tool for cancer detection.

Light is showing promise as a tool for cancer detection.

July 30, 2007

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Using novel light-scattering techniques, researchers at Northwestern University and Evanston-Northwestern Healthcare are having success detecting early stage cancer in preliminary experiments involving patients with colon cancer and pancreatic cancer.

As part of a call-in program, three of the pioneers behind this approach will be joined by an outside expert on biophotonics to discuss new research results presented in the Aug. 1, 2007, Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, regarding pancreatic cancer detection and the context for the findings.

What: Media call-in program hosted by the National Science Foundation
When: 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007
Details: Call-in number: (888)-469-0488 (toll free). For overseas callers, dial: 1-(210)-234-0011 (toll number, charges apply). The passcode PANCREAS and the leader's name (Patrick Olmert) must be provided to join the call.

Lines are limited so the program is restricted to reporters only. Due to the space constraints, reporters must RSVP to NSF Media Officer Josh Chamot at or (703) 292-7730. Callers requiring assistance can contact Josh Chamot before and during the program via email. Audio from the program and a full transcript will ultimately be available on the NSF Web site.


Richard McCourt (host)
Directorate for Biological Sciences
National Science Foundation (NSF)

Richard McCourt is a program officer in NSF's Division of Biological Infrastructure. He is a biologist interested in the phylogeny and evolution of green algae and plants, and uses molecular data to reconstruct evolutionary histories. His home institution is the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, where he studies the molecular phylogenetics and evolution of green algae and plants. He has written on science for the public and free-lanced for the science reporting unit at National Public Radio.

Vadim Backman
Biomedical Engineering Department
Northwestern University

Vadim Backman is professor of biomedical engineering at the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University and chairman and cofounder of American BioOptics, LLC. Backman's research interests are in the area of optical imaging, primarily focusing on minimally invasive optical diagnosis and imaging of early cancer. He received his doctorate in medical engineering from the Harvard University-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Division of Health Sciences and Technology in 2001 and joined the Northwestern faculty that year. He is the recipient of many awards, including the NSF CAREER Award and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation Early Career Translational Research Award in Biomedical Engineering. In 2004, Backman was selected as one of Technology Review's TR100, a worldwide list of the top 100 innovators under the age of 35. Backman is the author of more than 200 publications.

Randall Brand
Gastroenterologist, Evanston-Northwestern Healthcare
Associate Professor of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Randall E. Brand is a gastroenterologist and clinical researcher who specializes in pancreatic carcinoma and other gastrointestinal malignancies. He is recognized nationally for his expertise on hereditary pancreatic cancer-prone families and the early detection of pancreatic cancer. He is director of Endoscopic Ultrasound and clinical director of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Program at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare. He received his medical degree and completed his residency at the University of Michigan, and completed his fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. He is an associate professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University.

Hemant Roy
Gastroenterologist, Evanston-Northwestern Healthcare
Associate Professor of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Hemant K. Roy is a practicing gastroenterologist who directs the GI Research program at Evanston-Northwestern Healthcare and co-directs the GI Oncology Research group at Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University. His research interests are in early detection and chemoprevention of colon cancer. Roy has a basic science group that is focused on elucidating mechanisms of chemopreventive agents. Roy has been working with Vadim Backman for more than 5 years on applying biophotonics to colon cancer screening.

Frank Y. S. Chuang
Medical scientist, UC Davis Medical Center
Associate Director, NSF Center for Biophotonics, Science and Technology (CBST)

Frank Chuang is a medical scientist at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and an associate director of the NSF Center for Biophotonics, Science and Technology (CBST). After receiving his undergraduate degree in bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley in 1987, Frank joined a team of clinical researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to develop one of the first systems to treat surgically-inoperable brain tumors using accelerated heavy charged-particle beams. In 1990, Frank received a fellowship from NIH to join the Medical Scientist Training Program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. After completing his medical training and receiving a doctorate in immunology and biophysics, Chuang returned to California as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). In the Division of Medical Physics and Biophysics, he was the lead biomedical scientist for several projects developing new in vitro diagnostic systems for rapid, multiplex detection of microbial pathogens, and has written numerous papers and book chapters on optical methods of biodetection. Chuang also works in part for the LLNL-UC Davis Integrated Cancer Center and is leading the effort to develop clinical applications for a revolutionary new compact proton accelerator being designed and built at the laboratory.


Media Contacts
Joshua A. Chamot, NSF, (703) 292-7730, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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