Boppart recognized with Hans Sigrist Award

ECE News

Rick Kubetz, College of Engineering

Story Highlights

  • ECE Professor Stephen Boppart has been named the recipient of the international Hans Sigrist Award.
  • Boppart's research combines engineering, medicine, and biology to diagnostically assess cells and tissue for disease.
  • He currently leads the Illinois Imaging Initiative, a campus-wide effort to integrate imaging science, technology, and applications.

Stephen Allen Boppart
Stephen Allen Boppart

ECE Professor Stephen Allen Boppart, who also has appointments in the departments of Bioengineering and of Internal Medicine at Illinois, has been awarded the Hans Sigrist Prize, an international prize presented annually to a distinguished scientist in a selected field. The 2012 award was competitively selected to honor outstanding research in the field of diagnostic laser medicine.

A Bliss Professor of Engineering, Boppart’s interdisciplinary research group combines the fields of engineering, medicine, and biology to diagnostically assess cells and tissue for disease. Biophotonics, the application of light in medicine, biology, and biotechnology applications, allows researchers to develop novel technologies to detect disease at early stages, when it is most amenable to treatment. His Biophotonics Imaging Laboratory at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology focuses on developing novel optical biomedical diagnostic and imaging technologies, and translating them into clinical applications.

He is one of the early developers of optical coherence tomography (OCT), and he is actively participating in the growth, application, and clinical adoption of this technology, including applications in cancer imaging, primary care imaging, and the design and development of novel contrast agents. Most recently, his group has developed a technique to computationally correct for aberrations in OCT, paving the way for real-time, 3-D microscopic tissue imaging that could revolutionize medical fields such as cancer diagnosis, minimally invasive surgery, and ophthalmology.

Boppart has more than 200 invited and contributed publications to his credit and holds more than 30 patents related to optical biomedical imaging technology. He has mentored more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate interdisciplinary researchers. He currently leads Imaging at Illinois, a campus-wide effort to integrate imaging science, technology, and applications across multiple modalities and fields.

In 2002, Boppart was recognized by MIT’s Technology Review magazine as one of the Top 100 Young Innovators in the World for his development of medical technology, and he received the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Early Career Award in 2005. He was Founding Director of the Mills Breast Cancer Institute at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana, Illinois, and he has worked to establish partnership ties between the University and local medical institutions. He co-founded Diagnostic Photonics, Inc., in 2008, and serves as chief medical officer, assisting in commercializing its optical imaging technology for intraoperative guidance during cancer surgery. He is a Fellow of IEEE, SPIE, and the Optical Society of America, which awarded him the Paul F. Forman Engineering Excellence Award in 2009 for dedication and advancement in undergraduate research education.

In 1994, the Hans Sigrist Foundation established the award at the University of Bern, Switzerland, to promote scientific research. Boppart will receive his award—100,000 Swiss francs (about $107,000)—during a ceremony at the University of Bern on December 1, 2012. He will use these funds to support new research directions in his laboratory.

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