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SPIE partners with four biomedical optics labs on new postdoc fellowship

Program supporting young investigators honors medical laser pioneer

09 August 2017

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA, and CARDIFF, UK — SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, has partnered with four international biomedical optics laboratories — the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, the Manstein Lab in the Cutaneous Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, Medical Laser Center Lübeck and the Beckman Laser Institute at University of California, Irvine — and the Hillenkamp family to establish the SPIE–Franz Hillenkamp Postdoctoral Fellowship in Problem-Driven Biophotonics and Biomedical Optics.

The program was introduced in February during SPIE Photonics West and announced yesterday during SPIE Optics + Photonics in San Diego by SPIE President Glenn Boreman.

The SPIE–Franz Hillenkamp Postdoctoral Fellowship honors the distinguished career of medical laser pioneer Franz Hillenkamp as a researcher, teacher, and mentor who had enormous international impact.

Young investigators with PhD, MD, or equivalent degrees are eligible to apply. There are no restrictions on geographical location; however, applicants and hosting labs must propose original research in biomedical optics that is expected to lead to new diagnostics and/or therapeutics in medicine and biology.

An annual award of US$75,000 will support interdisciplinary problem-driven research and provide opportunities for translating new technologies to clinical practice for improving human health.

Hillenkamp, a German scientist, had strong ties to each of the four SPIE–Franz Hillenkamp Fellowship founding labs. He introduced the first medical laser applications laboratory and marked the genesis of translational research in biomedical optics in Europe in the 1970s, conducting application-oriented R&D in the areas of photo coagulation and photo disruption in ophthalmology, laser therapy of bladder tumors, laser-induced hemostasis in gastric ulcers, and laser bone surgery.

He was the developer of the laser microprobe mass analyzer and co-inventor of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI). Both instruments have become widely used by biologists, physicians and scientists to analyze bio-molecular structures.

More than US$910,000 has been pledged to endow the fellowship, and SPIE has agreed to a 1:1 donation in matching funds. The inaugural Hillenkamp Fellowship Committee, chaired by SPIE Fellow R. Rox Anderson, director of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, is seeking additional contributions and additional lab participants.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to promote and encourage the development of talented young investigators and expand the growth and impact of biophotonics and biomedical optics on human health," said Anderson, who is also co-chair of SPIE BiOS, part of SPIE Photonics West.

Gabriela Apiou, assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School and translational research training and education director at Mass General Research Institute, commented, "We expect this program will help develop leaders who can work not only across disciplines, cultures, and countries, but also understand the scientific and business principles that underlie translation of new technologies to patient care, including project management, commercialization and team science."

SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs said SPIE is "delighted to match the generous donations that will endow this program and to partner with those who will participate in this important work."

"Bringing the extraordinary advances reported at our BiOS conferences to patients is a priority for SPIE," he said. "The new fellowship shows our dedication to bringing the power of our technology to patients. We will continue to do that through our many activities that focus on translational biophotonics."

Applications will be open 1 September through 27 October, with the first fellowship beginning in January 2018. More details about the SPIE–Franz Hillenkamp Fellowship are at www.spie.org/Hillenkamp.

About SPIE

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science, engineering, and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library. In 2016, SPIE provided $4 million in support of education and outreach programs. www.spie.org


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