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UC Davis Scientist Wins $1M Keck Grant to Develop Molecular Imaging Tools

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The W.M. Keck Foundation has awarded $1 million to an investigator at the University of California, Davis to fund development of new molecular imaging tools.

Professor Angelique Louie, vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering, will use the grant to support her efforts to develop in vivo 3D imaging techniques that use bioluminescent gene reporters and MRI, UC Davis said Friday.

"The project proposes novel technology that will facilitate the detection of gene expression in deep, opaque tissues," Louie said in a statement. She said this technology will make noninvasive imaging more useful for "myriad new biomedical applications."

Her lab has focused on employing interdisciplinary approaches to using imaging techniques and probes to characterize molecular and cellular phenomena. Much of the research involves using the strengths of multiple imaging techniques, including PET and MRI, to visualize specific molecules or molecular functions.

These studies have been aimed at designing probes to characterize the molecular events involved in normal and diseased states, with a particular focus on cardiovascular disease, tumor formation, and retinal degeneration. In her heart disease research, for example, Louie is using PET and high-resolution molecular MRI techniques to create 3D images to identify arterial plaques that are at risk for rupture and could cause heart attacks or strokes.

UC Davis said this funding is part of its Campaign for UC Davis, which has raised $1.07 billion and will conclude on May 31, 2014.