Biomedical engineering hosts inaugural BioMedOpTex Symposium

Photo of Dr. Ken Meissner, Liang Lim, Sarah Ritter, Jennifer Burnett, Cory Olsovsky, Ricky Hennessy, Andrew Van and Dr. Kristen Maitland

Poster winners and symposium chairs, left to right: Dr. Ken Meissner, Liang Lim, Sarah Ritter, Jennifer Burnett, Cory Olsovsky, Ricky Hennessy, Andrew Van and Dr. Kristen Maitland


The department of Biomedical Engineering hosted the inaugural BioMedOpTex Symposium and student workshop at Texas A&M University in May.

The symposium was sponsored by the department, the Texas Engineering Experiment Station, SPIE – International Optics Society, and the National Science Foundation (NSF), with financial support from National Instruments and Lumenis.

The two-day technical program brought together more than 120 participants from Texas and the U.S. to discuss current efforts in the development of optical techniques and technologies that improve detection, diagnosis and therapy of human disease around the world.

National Academy of Engineering member Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum from Rice University delivered the keynote address on low-cost, high-performance technologies for global health, mobilizing attendees to focus on the impact of their research. The plenary speaker, Dr. Lihong Wang from Washington University (and a former Texas A&M faculty member, pictured below right), presented on advances in photoacoustic tomography. A panel with officers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NSF and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) focused on the challenges in clinical translation of optical technologies. Oral presentations covered a range of topics, including diagnostics and therapeutic applications, biophotonics in global health, spectroscopy and imaging.

Dr. Lihong Wang giving presentation

Organized by the Texas A&M SPIE Student Chapter, the student workshop at the Emerging Technologies Building attracted more than 50 students who participated in multiple activities and networking opportunities, optics lab tours and a panel discussion on entrepreneurship with representatives from large, established companies and startups, academia, a venture capital group and the FDA.

SPIE sponsored the poster awards for graduate and undergraduate students. Plaques and cash awards were presented at the end of the program.  The University of Texas at Austin graduate student Liang Lim was awarded first place and $200 for his poster, “Clinical study for spectral diagnosis of in vivo melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer.”  Texas A&M graduate student Sarah Ritter was awarded second place and $150 for her poster, “Encapsulation of analyte-sensitive fluorescent dyes within red blood cells for on-demand monitoring.” Rice University graduate student Jennifer Burnett won third place for her poster, “In vivo imaging of circulating blood cells for malaria diagnosis,” and Texas A&M undergraduate student Andrew Van was awarded first place for his poster, “An automated method for nuclear segmentation in confocal images of oral epithelial tissues.”

Honorable Mentions were awarded to Jana Howe from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Ricky Hennessy from the The University of Texas at Austin, Cory Olsovsky from Texas A&M and Floredes Menodiado from the University of Houston.

Organizing co-chair Dr. Kristen Maitland said, “Overall, the feedback received from symposium participants was extremely positive. Attendees from other institutions expressed an interest in hosting future meetings, which could include both clinical and preclinical focuses.”

Dr. Robert Nordstrom, panel speaker and program director in the Cancer Imaging Program at the National Cancer Institute, added, “I am always eager to participate in conferences where exciting new imaging technologies are presented. You managed to blend stimulating technical presentations by highly noted scientists with exciting poster papers. I was particularly impressed with the progress towards miniaturization and cost reduction taken by the optical imaging community in recent years. The state of Texas can be proud of its leadership role in biomedical research and in the many avenues of technology that are taking place there. You have demonstrated that Texas A&M University has a rightful place with the leaders in this area.”