Currently, the medical community has limited ability in clinically assessing blockages called atherosclerotic plaques in the human body.
These dangerous blockages that can lead to heart attacks and strokes are not easily diagnosed due to "the lack of noninvasive imaging techniques to accurately model atherosclerotic plaques in vivo," said
With the award of a National Science Foundation CAREER grant valued at
"Our innovative approach is to combine three separately developed technologies into one synergistic imaging system," Cao explained.
Cao and other researchers in his field of study have made such improvements in multiple types of imaging technologies that great improvements in medical knowledge have been verified in long-term studies of human disease in mice and rats.
However, "of all the imaging tasks involved with small animals, cardiovascular imaging is among the most challenging because the physiological motions of small animals are about ten times faster than those of humans," Cao said.
Cao, who spent six years as a research assistant professor and a postdoctoral scholar and fellow at
This scanner is currently considered one of the world's best in obtaining dynamic high spatial and temporal resolution CT images of small animals.
Cao has built two such state-of-art CT scanners for the biomedical researcher community. One is installed at the UNC Biomedical Research Imaging Center, and the other is at the
With his new NSF CAREER award, he now hopes to develop a carbon-nanotube field emission X-ray source to reduce the blurring of pictures that comes from the heart motions and to achieve the required time-based high resolution. His proposal calls for the integration of this specific type of X-ray with an energy-sensitive photon counting X-ray detector to develop his novel system.
Cao's previous work on developing carbon nanotube X-ray technologies has been featured in the popular press, such as in Nature, The Economist,
Cao is working on this project with
Cao has established the
Together, they provide image resolution from 500 micrometers down to 50 nanometers, and sample size from 100 micrometers up to 100 millimeters, enabling biomedical discovery on a range of objects from a single cell to an adult rat. They represent the state-of-the-art in X-ray imaging capability at the university setting around the world.
Cao received his bachelor's degree from the
TNS 30TagarumaMar-140130-4619665 30TagarumaMar
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