Professor Cheng Awarded $2.4 Million Grant by NIH

Professor Ji-Xin Cheng awarded huge grant to continue his groundbreaking biomedical research.

By Caroline Amato

Professor Ji-Xin Cheng (ECE, BME, MSE) was awarded a $2.4 million grant by the National Institutes of Health for sensing vulnerable plaque in vivo by an all-optical intravascular ultrasound and photoacoustic catheter.

NIH awards grants for groundbreaking research on the verge of changing medicine. Cheng’s biomedical research on this project is bound to change medicine for the better.

This project was developed  in hopes of helping  with coronary atherosclerosis, which is a major form of cardiovascular disease. Intravascular photoacoustic/ultrasound (IVPA/US) imaging is an emerging imaging process that helps to detect specific lipids. This localization is instrumental in the diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases.

In the 2020 August issue of Translational Biophotonics, Cheng and his team presented a dual-frequency IVPA/US catheter for highly-sensitive detection and precision localization of lipids. The original dual-mode IVPA/US has many advantages but unfortunately does not provide the same high-resolution imaging as seen in the dual-frequency catheter.

The development of the new catheter is a major step in reducing this limitation by using different frequencies for the photoacoustic and ultrasound modalities, respectively. This improvement can have a huge impact on in vivo imaging because it has the potential to differentiate vulnerable plaque from other types, and make the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease more efficient.

This grant, provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, will help Cheng and his team to further their research and find new mechanisms for the detection of lipids. 

For his pioneering contributions to innovation, discovery, and clinical translation of chemical imaging technologies, Cheng received the 2020 Pittsburgh Spectroscopy Award from the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh, the 2019 Ellis R. Lippincott Award jointly from the Optical Society of America, Society for Applied Spectroscopy and Coblentz Society, and the 2015 Craver Award from Coblentz Society. Cheng is also a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and the American Institute of Medicine and Biological Engineering.