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Hajim Professors Awarded $1.88M NIH Grant

Andrew Berger, associate professor of optics, and Hani Awad, professor of biomedical engineering, have received a $1.88 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health for their project, “Raman Spectroscopic Platform for Transcutaneous Monitoring of Bone Quality.”

Currently, assessing the risk of bone fracture associated with osteoporosis relies primarily on measures of bone mineral density. These measurements are strongly correlated with bone strength, but not with fracture risk. The goal of this grant is to demonstrate Raman spectroscopy as a promising, noninvasive way to assess both bone strength and fracture risk. The research also aims to detect improvements in bone quality in response to anti-resorptive and anabolic treatments. This is an exciting project, with important applications as the US population continues to age.

This five-year collaboration between Berger and Awad started with a Provost Multidisciplinary Award in 2010, which yielded five high-profile publications and led to a prior R21 grant from the NIH, which has now culminated in this large MPI R01 award. As Awad notes, the return on the provost’s initial $75,000 seed money is now in excess of $2.25 million in NIH funding.

Berger's area of interest is biomedical optics, specifically spectroscopic diagnostic techniques. More generally, he seeks to apply lasers and spectroscopic methods (absorption, fluorescence, Raman, and scattering spectroscopies) to problems of medical interest. His other related interests include:

  • Exploring fundamental aspects of light scattering and diffusion in turbid (e.g., biological) media
  • Developing novel spectroscopic techniques, through both instrumentation and analytical modeling, which extend the range of biomedical phenomena that can be studied using light

To learn more about Professor Berger’s current research, visit his lab website.