Prof. Christine Hendon Awarded RISE Program Funding

July 03, 2014

The Electrical Engineering Department congratulates Assistant Professor Christine Hendon for the acceptance of her Research Initiatives for Science and Engineering (RISE) proposal. This internal grant provides funding to begin science and engineering research projects at Columbia with the expectation that preliminary findings obtained with RISE support are used to secure external funding. Only those theories and projects with the most innovative collaborations and projected outcomes are awarded funding.

Prof. Hendon, who in 2013 made MIT’s Annual Innovators Under 35 List, will be a co-principal investigator and will be working alongside two members of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons: Co-principal investigator Dr. Sheldon Feldman, Vivian L. Milstein Associate Professor of Clinical Surgery and Chief of the Division of Breast Surgery at the Columbia University Department of Surgery and Co-investigator Dr. Hanina Hibshoosh, Professor of Clinical Pathology and Cell Biology and Director of the Molecular Pathology Shared Resource Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. Their proposal, "Optical Coherence Tomography imaging for the early detection of ductal carcinoma in situ," aims to address a gap in early detection of possible breast cancer. Currently, 10 to 30 percent of breast cancers are not detected by traditional mammography methods. This is due to a variety of reasons, such as the commonly acknowledged factor of breast density. The proposal focuses on precancerous zones found in the mammary duct called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). If undetected in the duct, DCIS may invade surrounding tissue and lead to breast cancer. Early detection of DCIS could lead to more localized treatments and a reduced need for mastectomies. The RISE program aims to support not only novel but interdisciplinary projects; the proposal by Prof. Hendon and Drs. Feldman and Hibshoosh to develop new DCIS detection methods exemplifies the successful coupling of electrical engineering innovation with medical campus implementation. As her contribution to the proposal's realization, Prof. Hendon will develop new high-resolution optical imaging systems and image processing algorithms for characterization of the breast ductal structure.