Medical imaging innovator Christine Hendon wins Presidential honor

January 12, 2017

Christine Hendon, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Columbia Engineering, has won the Presidential Early Career Award (PECASE), the highest honor the U.S. government gives to young scientists and engineers. Hendon, who develops innovative medical imaging instruments for use in surgery and breast cancer detection, is one of 102 researchers from across the nation named by President Obama on January 9.

"I congratulate these outstanding scientists and engineers on their impactful work," President Obama said. "These innovators are working to help keep the United States on the cutting edge, showing that federal investments in science lead to advancements that expand our knowledge of the world around us and contribute to our economy."

Hendon's research is focused on biomedical optics, a medical technology that does not rely on radiation. She is developing optical imaging and spectroscopy instruments for surgical guidance and has earned numerous honors for her groundbreaking work. In 2015 she won a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award; in 2014 she received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) New Innovator Award; in 2013 she was named to both MIT's prestigious list of 35 Innovators Under 35 and the Forbes 30 Under 30 list of game changers in science and health care.


"A PECASE award is an incredible honor," Hendon said. "For a young researcher, this is the pinnacle of recognition, and I am thrilled to be included in this brilliant group. It is wonderful to see the White House acknowledging scientific accomplishments from investigators working on a diverse array of problems. I am very much excited to continue the research that my laboratory has been working on for the past four years and hope to see it widely used in the future."

Hendon is developing optical tools that aim to provide surgeons with a clear understanding of the tissue on which they are operating. She uses near-infrared spectroscopy and optical coherence tomography (OCT), a non-invasive imaging technique nicknamed "optical ultrasound" that provides depth-resolved, high-resolution images of tissue microstructure in real-time. These "optical biopsies" offer much higher resolution than current medical imaging options such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and ultrasound. Using OCT, a surgeon could image a wide area of tissue and, unlike invasive biopsies, remove as little tissue as possible. Hendon is currently working with Vivek Iyer, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Columbia University Medical Center to explore the use of OCT and spectroscopy in the treatment of heart arrhythmias, where surgeons often use a catheter to detect abnormal electrical signals and then apply radiofrequency energy to remove scar tissue in the malfunctioning area.

Other projects running in Hendon's Structure Function Imaging Laboratory include using optical tools to detect and image breast cancer. She is working with breast surgeon Sheldon Feldman and pathologist Hanina Hibshoosh at Columbia University Medical Center to identify tumors localized to the duct and eventually to image lesions over time to determine which are likely to progress to cancer. Hendon is also collaborating with Columbia Engineering Associate Professor Kristin Myers on using imaging to assess the mechanical properties of the cervix in relation to preterm birth.
Hendon joined Columbia Engineering in 2012 after completing post-doctoral work at Harvard Medical School, where she developed signal and image processing algorithms to identify cholesterol deposits within OCT images of coronary arteries. She received her BS degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2004, and her MS (2007) and PhD (2010) degrees in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University.

Previous Columbia Engineering professors to receive the PECASE award include Antonius "Ton" Dieker, associate professor of industrial engineering and operations research; Jose Blanchet, professor of industrial engineering and operations research; and Xi Chen, associate professor of earth and environmental engineering.



Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to