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Dartmouth Engineering Student Is Finalist in Collegiate Inventors Competition

Sep 13, 2022   |   by Catha Mayor

PhD student Arthur Petusseau has been selected as a graduate finalist in the 2022 Collegiate Inventors Competition for his invention, "Hypoxia Imager for Surgery Guidance."

Arthur Petusseau lab crop

PhD student Arthur Petusseau prepares a fluorescent sample for hypoxia camera calibration.

The Competition was founded by the National Inventors Hall of Fame to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship at the collegiate level. In October, Petusseau and his fellow finalists will present their research and prototypes at US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. A panel of inventors and innovation experts will then select the winners who receive cash prizes and a USPTO patent acceleration certificate.

"Winning the Collegiate Inventors Competition would be a recognition of the significance of our work," said Petusseau. "Getting the approbation of experts in the innovation field would give me confidence in the importance of our invention and would help us go forward with the development and commercialization of the device."

Most tumors have areas of chronic hypoxia—deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues. The "Hypoxia Imager for Surgery Guidance" uses a fluorescent imaging agent triggered by low oxygen concentration to enable real-time imaging of hypoxia with sufficient visual contrast to normal oxygenated tissue. 

"This work shows the first demonstration of imaging hypoxia signals in a pancreatic cancer model," said Petusseau. "This new mechanism could easily be translated to human use as an intrinsic contrast mechanism for oncologic surgical guidance."

Dartmouth Engineering professors Petr Brůža and Brian Pogue are serving as faculty advisors on the project. "Arthur is the main driving force, as he both develops the methods and performs all the pre-clinical imaging," said Brůža. "I'm advising him on imaging technology and electronics, and Brian Pogue advises him on research studies."

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