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NSF Career Grant awarded to biomedical engineer Guohao Cao for the development of adavanced cardiovascular imaging technology

Cardiovascular ImagingBlacksburg Virgina: January 15 2014 – Assistant Professor of biomedical engineering Guohua Cao of Virginia Tech was granted the National Science Foundation career grant. The award, which was worth $400,000, is currently being used by Cao for the development of a highly sophisticated imaging technique to be utilized in the field of cardiovascular medicine. This modality was said to be especially useful for the live imaging of atherosclerotic plaques in patients. It is regarded as the most advanced technology to date in the field of high resolution imaging.

Atherosclerosis is an accumulation of cholesterol on the inner linings of the blood vessels. These may cause blockages and may compromise the blood flow to vital organs such as the heart, which in turn may lead to a morbid chain of events leading to heart attack or stroke. Cao emphasized that the prompt management for these conditions is currently hindered by a lack of medical technology which utilizes precise non-invasive imaging techniques.

Cao and other colleagues have developed different healthcare innovations in the fields of medical imaging which had significant contributions in the medical field. However, he points out that cardiovascular imaging so far has been the most difficult to study in animal subjects since the movements of small animals such as mice are ten-folds faster than human motion.

With the awarding of the NSF grant, biomedical engineer Cao, together with a colleague, Ge Wang of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is now on the move in developing a five-dimensional microcomputer computer tomography scanner to be used in live imaging of atherosclerotic plaques in genetically engineered mouse subjects. The imaging modality, which utilizes a carbon-nanotube field emission x-ray source, was dubbed to be the next best thing in cardiovascular biomedical engineering. The machine is expected to increase the resolution of the pictures and sharpen the images which usually blurs with the heart in motion.

This new project is hoped to be another step closer to accurate and precise medical diagnostics and healthcare management and hopefully improved patient’s outcomes through several aspects such as more sensitive screening and measurement of response to medications among others.

Guohao Cao is the current director of SBES Advanced Multi-scale CT (SAM-CT) Laboratory. He gained popularity for developing carbon nanotube x-ray technologies. The works of Cao have been published in several publications including Discovery News and Technology Review.


Nystrom, Lynn. 15 January 2014. 5 February 2014 <>.

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