News Archive

Undergrad's Passion to Help Others Leads Her to BME

BME undergraduate Danielle Spencer with her twin brother, James

In high school, UA sophomore Danielle Spencer thought she wanted to be a neurosurgeon. Her twin brother James endured years of tests and procedures to treat his seizures, and one in particular – a split brain surgery – had an enormous impact on both siblings.

After the apparent success of the procedure, Spencer told The Daily Wildcat she decided to study neurosurgery to become like those who helped her brother. But it was an episode of "60 Minutes" on biomedical engineering that gave her a better career focus for her scientifically curious mind.

"I remember watching that [60 Minutes] and thinking I can incorporate that sort of technology for someone like my brother, because his way of life still isn't normal or typical," said Spencer.

An avid gymnast, Spencer came to the UA as a recruit by former head coach Bill Ryden – himself a former engineer – who knew of her interest in biomedical engineering.

"The passion and drive Dani demonstrates in the gym is only a piece of who she truly is," said gymnastics team captain and roommate Krysten Howard. She "wants to change lives and be a light to those in need."

Photo of Danielle with her twin, James, courtesy of Danielle Spencer.

Combating the "Silent Killer" of Women

Jennifer BartonOvarian cancer is considered the most deadly gynecological cancer in the U.S., with nearly 70 percent of women already in advanced stages when first diagnosed.

Jennifer Barton, professor of biomedical engineering and interim director of the UA BIO5 Institute, recently discussed her work to improve the odds of recovery for women with ovarian cancer.

In a Dec. 23 segment on the Arizona Science radio show, she describes an optical endoscope currently under development by her lab to detect cancer in the fallopian tubes. In an SPIE video, she further details the imaging techniques that make the device more effective at early detection. 

UA Researchers Go the Distance for Fluid Analysis Via Sweat

Microfluidic sensor on wet skinWhile participating in last year's El Tour de Tucson, more than a dozen volunteers were simultaneously participating in and conducting a real-world scientific study, one that involved a diminutive device that rapidly and painlessly analyzes body chemistry from sweat.

Among the volunteers were faculty and students at the University of Arizona and University of Illinois who helped develop a first-of-its-kind soft, stretchable, wearable microfluidic sweat sensor – including Dr. Marvin Slepian, associate department head for clinical-industrial affairs.

Photo courtesy of John Rogers/Northwestern University

Xeridiem Recruits Capstone Team Leader

Summer GarlandBy all accounts, Team 15024’s project was a winner.  

Sponsored by Tucson-based Xeridiem, the students’ Nasogastric Tube Placement Verification System earned two first-prize awards at UA Engineering’s 2016 Design Day. Members of the team also took their show on the road, presenting the project at the June 2016 Capstone Design Conference in Columbus, Ohio.  

The team’s can-do attitude continues to pay off. Xeridiem has graciously named all team members on patent applications for the device. And, when team mentor Paul Melnychuck needed to replace a departing employee, he called Garland, who is working part-time for Xeridiem as a customer success engineer and will go full time in January when she graduates.

Slepian Helps Local Company Bring AEDs to Neighborhoods

Marvin Slepian; photo by Arizona Daily Star/Mike ChristyDr. Marvin Slepian, associate department head for clinical-industrial affairs and director of the Arizona Center for Accelerated Biomedical Innovation, is working with Tucson-based startup CardioSpark to get automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, sprinkled throughout Southern Arizona’s neighborhoods.

Photo by Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Star

BME Researcher Gets Grant for Ovarian Cancer Screening Device

Jennifer Barton in the labProfessor of biomedical engineering Jennifer Barton has been awarded a four-year National Institutes of Health grant totaling nearly $1.3 million to develop a novel tool that would be used to identify the earliest signs of ovarian cancer.  

Barton, interim director of the UA's BIO5 Institute, is collaborating with Khanh Kieu, assistant professor of optical sciences, and Kenneth Hatch, professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

The new device, called a salpingoscope, would enable high-sensitivity, high-resolution imaging of the fallopian tube, ovaries and uterine wall. The scope would be used under local anesthesia in an office setting.

Student-Athlete Spencer Declares Her Major

Danielle Spencer competing with gymnastic routineArizona Athletics emphasized the "student" in "student-athlete" with their first annual Declare Your Major Day in October

One of the Wildcats highlighted at the event was sophomore gymnast Danielle Spencer, who shared her story of selecting biomedical engineering as a major. 

“I will be able to take my passion and hopefully improves the quality of life,” she said. “It gives me my reason and purpose. ... It helps me keep the best outlook on my life.”

Barton Honored with SPIE President's Award

Jennifer Barton onstage after receiving the 2016 SPIE President's Award; photo courtesy of SPIEJennifer Barton – cancer researcher, professor of biomedical imaging and interim director of the BIO5 Institutereceived the 2016 President's Award from SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

A member of the SPIE board of directors, she was recognized for her "inspirational leadership, excellence in research and dedicated involvement in governance."

Image courtesy of SPIE

UA Receives First NuPET Scanner in the Nation

Two Cubresa researchers insert a mouse into the NuPET system on July 28. The UA was chosen as the first U.S. institution to receive the technology; image courtesy of Cubresa Inc.Joint BME faculty members Mark "Marty" Pagel and Julio Cárdenas-Rodríguez have joined with the Canadian company Cubresa Inc. to bring NuPET technology to the University of Arizona

The UA team are pairing the compact positron emission tomography scanner with a dynamic MRI technique to develop a novel preclinical approach for characterizing cancerous tumors

The dual-mode system aims to provide a more precise image and, ultimately, a quicker diagnosis.

"A single imaging mode is not enough to reveal all the permutations and gain a diagnostically useful understanding of what’s going on inside the tumor," said Pagel. “But, as we refine our approach, I’m confident that better interpretations will be made, and that could translate into better outcomes for patients.”

Image courtesy of Cubresa Inc.

UA Engineering Faculty Develop Device to Improve Screening for Ovarian Cancer

Raymond K. Kostuk exhibits the bench-top VHIS at work in his lab located in the University of Arizona’s department of electrical and computer engineering. Photo by Taylor Hudson/Tech Launch ArizonaJennifer Barton, professor of biomedical engineering and interim director of the BIO5 Institute, collaborated with Raymond Kostuk of the department of electrical and computer engineering to develop a novel method and device to detect and diagnose ovarian cancer. Their approach is based on a volume holographic imaging system.

They have successfully completed a clinical trial using a bench-top version of the device and are currently developing a handheld rigid endoscope version.

Image courtesy of Taylor Hudson/Tech Launch Arizona


University of Arizona College of Engineering
Department of Biomedical Engineering 1127 E James E. Rogers Way P.O. Box 210020 Tucson, AZ 85721-0020