BLI Researcher Awarded 4-Year Grant by NIH

Zhongping Chen
Zhongping Chen

A multi-institute, 4-year grant, “Combined OCT/US/PAT system for intravascular imaging,” has been awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, to Dr. Zhongping Chen, Beckman Laser Institute (BLI) at UCI, Dr. Qifa Zhou, NIH Transducer Resource Center at USC, and Dr. Pranov Patel, Department of Cardiology at UCI. The broad, long term objective of this proposal is to develop an integrated multimodal intravascular imaging system that combines intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), optical coherence tomography (OCT), and photoacoustic tomography (PAT). The multimodal intravascular imaging system is unique in that it combines the advantages of high spatial resolution of OCT, broad imaging depth of US, and molecular contrast of PAT.  The integrated IVUS/OCT/PAT will provide the physician with a powerful tool for imaging, diagnosing, and managing vulnerable plaques. Early detection of plaque lesions is the first and necessary step in preventing the lethal consequences of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease that is characterized by the accumulation of lipids, cholesterol, fibrous constituents, monocytes, and various other inflammatory cells in the arterial wall.  It is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in developed countries.  The major cause of deaths from heart attacks (86%) and brain aneurysms (45%) is due to “vulnerable plaques” that rupture suddenly and trigger a blood clot or thrombus that blocks blood flow. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in America. This proposal is expected to have significant impact on the earlier detection, prevention, and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.