Guoqiang Yu: 2024-25 University Research Professor Questions and Answers

UKNow highlights the University of Kentucky’s 2023-24 University Research Professors.Established by the Board in 1976, the Professorship recognizes excellence across the spectrum of UK research and is sponsored by the Office of the Vice-President for Research.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 11, 2024) — Guoqiang Yu, Ph.D., Professor in the F. Joseph Halcomb III, MD Department of Biomedical Engineering i University of Kentucky Stanley and Karen Pigman College of Engineeringhas been honored as a professor at university research in 2024-25.

Yu started in the UK in 2007 and has since become a highly cited innovator — one of Elsevier’s top 2% of the world’s most cited researchers in 2023. His research focuses on developing innovative, low-cost optical imaging techniques for non-invasive monitoring of tissue health and function and organs.

As the primary inventor, Yu has developed and led the use of many innovative patent-protected optical imaging techniques for non-invasive diagnosis and longitudinal therapeutic monitoring of brain injury, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, wound/burn, tissue reconstruction and diabetes. He holds six patents.

Yu spoke to UKNow about his recent award as a University Research Professor in this Q&A.

UKNow: What does it mean to you to be recognized as a University Research Professor?

Yuu: The University Research Professorship program not only recognizes my excellence in research but also supports my team to explore new ideas, prove new concepts and develop new biotechnologies for health benefits. My academic career and leadership will be further strengthened through these interdisciplinary collaborative activities in engineering and medicine as we continue to solve biotech challenges and advance human health.

This builds on my 17 years here in the UK, where I have established a solid biophotonics research programme. My research has been continuously supported by a variety of funders totaling over $55 million. I served as the single PI on several grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other foundations totaling over $10 million over the past five years. Working with industry, I secured over US$5 million for technical translation and commercialization.

UKNow: How will the professorship advance your research?

Yuu: For the past decade, my team has worked on the development of innovative near-infrared 3D tomographic technologies for cerebral imaging of animals and humans, including neonatal subjects. Although effective, these techniques require point light scanning to many source positions, which is time-consuming and complicated. As a result, functional connectivity imaging across different brain regions is not yet available due to the low temporal-spatial resolution.

We have recently initiated the development of a revolutionary, rapid, high-resolution, time-resolved laser lipoma contrast (TR-LSCI) technique. The TR-LSCI illuminates picosecond-pulsed, wide-field, coherent, near-infrared light on the brain and synchronizes a newly developed, picosecond-controlled, high-resolution, single-photon lava diode camera for noninvasive 2D mapping of cerebral blood flow and functional connectivity. at different depths in the head.

Supported by the University Research Professorship, we will assemble a new generation, portable TR-LSCI device and test it in head-simulating phantoms. The results of this pilot study will be used for extramural grant applications to ultimately develop a user-friendly, real-time, high-resolution, depth-sensitive, and portable/mobile brain functional imaging device for basic neuroscience research and clinical applications.

UKNow: How does your research address the challenges facing Kentucky?

Yuu: Kentucky consistently ranks as one of the least healthy states in the country. Kentuckians suffer from huge health disparities and have some of the highest national rates for the leading causes of death, cardiovascular disease, cancer, drug use, diabetes and obesity. Particularly in Appalachia, many communities face significant health challenges with limited resources.

Early diagnosis and effective treatment of all types of disease are essential for a positive prognosis. Currently available imaging techniques for diagnosis and therapeutic monitoring include fMRI, CT and PET, which are expensive and difficult to use continuously. In contrast, optical imaging instruments are portable, inexpensive, and rapid, enabling continuous and longitudinal disease monitoring.

I expect that functional information obtained through our low-cost optical imaging techniques can ultimately be used in Kentucky across Appalachia for early diagnosis of various diseases and continuous assessment of therapeutic efficacy.

UKNow: What impact will your research have on Kentucky?

Yuu: In collaboration with many clinicians and researchers at the College of Medicine, we are currently testing our innovative low-cost optical imaging technologies in clinical settings for healthcare and commercialization.

In collaboration with Dr. Thomas Pittman in Neurosurgery, we have developed an inexpensive, portable eyepiece fluorescence imaging device (US Patent #11,813,118) for intraoperative identification of brain tumor margins. This innovative device won the Global Brain Race 2019.

In collaboration with Drs. Elie G. Abu Jawdeh and Henrietta S. Bada in Pediatrics and Drs. Lesley Wong in Plastic Surgery, we have developed an innovative optical tomographic system (US Patent #9861319) for non-invasive and contact-free imaging of brains, burns, wounds and reconstructive tissues. These proprietary devices are currently under commercialization sponsored by the NIH and industry.

Most importantly, our low-cost optical imaging technologies provide many advanced features compared to other competing technologies, potentially leading to lasting impact on Kentucky healthcare.

About the university’s research professors
Each year, the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees approves a cohort of faculty who University researcher. The distinction recognizes excellence in work that addresses scientific, social, cultural and economic challenges in Kentucky and the world.

College management developed criteria for excellence in their area of ​​expertise and then nominated faculty who excelled at those criteria. Each university research professor receives a one-year award of $10,000 and participates in other events planned around the program.

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