Enrico Gratton, a physicist who pioneered technology used to map out physiological systems, has been appointed to the UC Irvine faculty.
As a professor of biomedical engineering in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, Gratton will collaborate with other UCI researchers in the areas of engineering, medicine, physical science, information and computer science, and biological science, as well as at UCI's Beckman Laser Institute.
"Essential to the interdisciplinary biomedical engineering effort is a strong network of faculty members with proven track records of building connections," said Nicolaos G. Alexopoulos, dean of engineering. "Professor Gratton arrives with this track record. His scientific contributions are vast, spanning areas from physics to biology to engineering in medical applications."
In the medical field, Gratton has developed optical technology that allows doctors to study processes inside the body without having to perform surgery. Gratton's research led to the development of a noninvasive diagnostic tool that can study changes on the surface of the brain. The technology could be used to find hematomas in children, study blood flow in the brain during sleep apnea and monitor recovering stroke patients on a daily or hourly basis. At UCI, Gratton plans to use his techniques to study attention deficit disorder in children and the reasons behind failures of certain cochlear implants. He also plans to use optical technology to study breast cancer and the effectiveness of chemotherapy in younger women.
In the biology arena, Gratton uses fluorescence to better understand cells and their molecules. Fluorescence is the emission of light by molecules once they become excited. Gratton heads the Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics, a National Center for Research Resources in biomedical fluorescence spectroscopy supported by the National Institutes of Health. Scientists in his lab use fluorescence to study the interaction of molecules. The research leads to a better understanding of how cells work, and it could serve as a foundation for creating better treatments for tumors and cancer. The lab, which is moving to UCI, also designs and sells computer software called Globals for Spectroscopy and Globals for Imaging that allow scientists to analyze data. Proceeds are used to fund research-related conferences and workshops.
Also coming to UCI is ISS Inc., a fluorescence-instrument company founded by Gratton. ISS is the fruit of transferring laboratory technologies pioneered by Gratton to the commercial world. The company uses technology developed by Gratton to make equipment for doctors and researchers working in life sciences, drug discovery and material sciences. An expansion of ISS will be located at University Research Park.
Gratton comes from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was a professor in the Department of Physics - one of the highest-ranked such departments in the country.┬ He received his doctorate in physics from the University of Rome in 1969. In 1970, he had a fellowship at the Instituto Superiore di Sanita Rome and, in the mid-1970s, was a researcher at Snamprogetti in Monterotondo, Italy. In the late 1970s, Gratton joined the University of Illinois faculty as a research associate in the biochemistry department. He became a full physics professor there in 1989. Gratton has authored more than 400 publications, holds 11 patents and has delivered many prestigious lectures. He serves on several science advisory committees, including the board of directors for the National Institute for Nanotechnology.
"Few scientists in Professor Gratton's field have comparable stature and recognition," said William C. Tang, interim chair of UCI's Department of Biomedical Engineering. "His coming to UCI will greatly benefit the entire campus."
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