2023 SPIE-Franz Hillenkamp Postdoctoral Fellowship Awarded to Arutyun Bagramyan

The $75,000 annual award will support Bagramyan’s research in non-invasive imaging
22 November 2022
2023 SPIE -Franz Hillenkamp Postdoctoral Fellow Arutyun Bagramyan analyzing high-frame rate videos of human capillaries.
Bagramyan at work, analyzing high-frame rate videos of human capillaries. He is looking for the immune cells that circulate in the blood flow and adhere to blood vessel walls. The monitoring and quantification of immune cells can help detect the presence of pathogens or infections that induce inflammation.

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA — SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, has announced Arutyun Bagramyan, who received his PhD in physics and biomedical engineering from Laval University in 2020, as the winner of the 2023 SPIE-Franz Hillenkamp Postdoctoral Fellowship in Problem-Driven Biomedical Optics and Analytics. The annual award of $75,000 supports interdisciplinary problem-driven research and provides opportunities for translating new technologies into clinical practice for improving human health. Bagramyan will be recognized at the SPIE BiOS Hot Topics event during Photonics West, scheduled for 29 January 2023.

Bagramyan’s postdoctoral research — conducted in conjunction with Principal Investigator Charles Lin at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine — will focus on the development of a miniature oblique back-illumination microscope for real-time, non-invasive imaging of white blood cells in human microvasculature. The clinical device will benefit one of the most vulnerable populations of patients — neonates — by alleviating the need for blood extraction (phlebotomy), while enabling preventative monitoring of the immune system for early diagnosis of infection and for any abnormal immune-system functioning that might induce inflammation. The aim is an immediate clinical improvement that will relieve prematurely born infants from repeated phlebotomy and prevent life-threatening medical complications such as septic shock. Bagramyan will be presenting this project during SPIE Photonics West in January.

“Receiving the SPIE-Franz Hillenkamp Fellowship is an extraordinary opportunity for me to continue working on a fascinating translational project with a potentially far-reaching medical impact,” notes Bagramyan. “I hope that one day, clinicians will use our instrument for safe daily diagnosis of inflammation in prematurely born neonates, without inducing pain or drawing blood. I thank the Society for this award.”

“This is a very exciting proposal from an excellent scientist working in a lab highly renowned for pioneering biomedical optics research,” said the Co-Chairs of the Hillenkamp Fellowship Committee Rox Anderson and Gabriela Apiou. “Arutyun's work is poised to make a real impact in neonatal care, and medicine in general. By rapidly and non-invasively counting white blood cells, it will reduce the need for drawing blood. Activation of leukocytes is central to many life-threatening conditions. Beyond simply counting them, the ability to detect their state of activation, without even taking a blood sample, is unprecedented.”

Honoring the career of medical laser pioneer Franz Hillenkamp, the SPIE-Hillenkamp Fellowship is a partnership between multiple international biomedical laboratories — the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, the Beckman Laser Institute, the Manstein Lab in the Cutaneous Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, Medical Laser Center Lübeck, and Boston University — and the Hillenkamp family. The endowment is funded through generous donations from the biomedical optics community, with SPIE contributing matching funds up to $1.5 million.

Applications for the 2024 SPIE-Hillenkamp Fellowship will open in the Spring of 2023.

About SPIE

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, brings engineers, scientists, students, and business professionals together to advance light-based science and technology. The Society, founded in 1955, connects and engages with our global constituency through industry-leading conferences and exhibitions; publications of conference proceedings, books, and journals in the SPIE Digital Library; and career-building opportunities. Over the past five years, SPIE has contributed more than $22 million to the international optics community through our advocacy and support, including scholarships, educational resources, travel grants, endowed gifts, and public-policy development. www.spie.org.
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