The goal of this competitive renewal is to provide continued salary support to facilitate the advancement and completion of patient-oriented research and the continued mentoring of trainees and junior faculty in endoscopic patient-oriented research. The Principal Investigator is a clinically-active [sic], NIH-funded physician scientist and a collaborator on an important study to develop an office-based clinical system to detect patients at risk for colorectal neoplasia (colorectal cancer) using two newly-developed light-based, spectroscopic techniques. The two techniques are low-coherence enhanced backscattering (LEBS) spectroscopy and four-dimensional elastic light scattering fingerprinting (ELF). Together, these light-based imaging systems have the potential to dramatically improve cancer screening by determining prior to colonoscopy, which patients may actually be at risk for colorectal neoplasia. By doing so, the number of patients screened via colonoscopy could be drastically reduced by eliminating this procedure for patients who are not capable of forming cancer or cancer precursors. The overall reduction in health care costs (both direct and indirect) by targeting colonoscopy for only those patients at risk for the disease would be staggering. This proposal supports a Bioengineering Research Partnership (BRP) in collaboration with investigators and colleagues at Northwestern University. The BRP is supported by the NIH (two R21's, three R01's and a U01 grants). Dr. Vadim Backman and his group have developed and analyzed the systems and performed preliminary clinical studies on a number of biophotonics techniques that promises to have unprecedented accuracy in risk stratification of colonic neoplasia. The major objective of the BRP is to refine and provide comprehensive, definitive multi-center validation of these novel methodologies for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening, thus providing a quantum leap in population screening. The major objective of the K24 is to provide the PI support for time to devote to patient-oriented research (POR) and to act as a research mentor for clinical residents, clinical fellows and/or junior medical faculty. The Principal Investigator is devoted to training clinical researchers and will continue the formalized instruction and mentoring of young clinicians so that they may successfully engage in meaningful independent patient-oriented research. In this way, the PI will help mentor the next generation of physician scientists.
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