Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

NIH Funds Dartmouth Spin-Off for Radiation Therapy Imaging Technology

By Anna Fiorentino
January 2016 • CoolStuff

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded two grants to DoseOptics, co-founded and led by Dartmouth engineering professor Brian Pogue, to further develop their patented device that provides real-time imaging of radiation therapy to verify that patients are getting the correct dosage. The two Small Business Innovation Research grants from NIH’s National Cancer Institute total more than $1.4 million.

"I was very excited about the funding, which gives us a chance to make a real commercial start that wouldn't be possible otherwise," says Pogue. "Funding for biomedical device startups is hard to obtain because the timeline for getting to market can be longer than some investors are willing to deal with. The NIH funds allow us to really realize the company."

Along with Pogue, the company was founded by fellow engineering professor Scott Davis, managing member, and William Ware Th'94, who serves as CEO. Engineering professor Venkataramanan Krishnaswamy joined later as the Vice President of Technology.

DoseOptics' technology is the first to map a radiation dose as it happens in human tissue.

"In radiation therapy, delivery errors occur, and since this delivery is commonly done every day for 30 days in a row, small errors can build up," says Pogue. "Also, if a patient loses weight during the course of radiation or if they breathe at an inappropriate time, the delivered radiation could be incorrect. It is critical to avoid excess radiation to normal tissue, and maximize radiation to the tumor regions."

Cherenkov Beam 3D
Cherenkov tomogram

Pogue and his colleagues are building both a camera and interpretation software to sell at a price that is viable for radiation oncology systems. The device will provide valuable verification that the radiation delivered is the amount prescribed.

The system captures the low-level light of the Čerenkov effect— the emission of light by a charged particle passing through a medium at a speed greater than the speed of light in that medium—and uses specialized image processing to remove background noise.

The development of this technology has involved numerous Thayer School students including Tianshun Miao Th'15, and PhD students Adam Glaser Th'15 and Rongxiao Zhang '15.

The NIH grants will support calibration, development, and set-up of a room-based camera system, with testing and early-phase clinical trials performed at Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

DoseOptics was launched with help from the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network. Dartmouth remains a small percentage partner in the company which is located at the Dartmouth Regional Technology Center in Lebanon, NH.

Tags: alumni, engineering in medicine, entrepreneurship, faculty, students

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