Center for Biophotonics Science & Technology Newsletter  

October Highlights 2009
In This Issue
CBST Research Highlights
CBST Education Highlights
CBST KT Highlights
Awards & Recognitions
Calendar of Events
Grants & Funding
NSF logo 
Work supported by the National Science Foundation
Cooperative Agreement No. PHY-0120999.
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Dr. Dennis Matthews, CBST Center DirectorThe Tahoe Forest Health System recently named Thomas D. Hobday as Founding Director of the newly-formed Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research (TIRHR).  We're excited about this unique opportunity in which we are partnering with the TIRHR as a means to find innovative approaches to solving rural health issues.  As a continuation of our CBST outreach and interest in strategic partnership opportunities, I will be traveling at the end of October and early November 2009 for the Asia Communications & Photonics (ACP) Conference and then on to Shanghai, China.  I'm also happy to report that we're making progress in our BP4Life activities, which are in partnership with CIPI in Canada and Photonics4Life in Europe.  Please stay tuned for updates regarding Biophotonics Week in Quebec in September 2010. 
~Dennis Matthews, Ph.D. CBST Director
CBST Research Highlights
Meet the Researcher - Dr. Christopher Contag 
Dr. Christopher ContagDr. Christopher Contag is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics - Neonatology, of Microbiology & Immunology and, by courtesy, of Radiology at Stanford University.  He currently serves in the roles of Co-Director of the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS,, Director of the Stanford Center for Innovation in In-Vivo Imaging (SCI3,, and Director of the Stanford Near Infrared Optics and Photomedicine Center.  He is a member of the Stanford BioX faculty (, the immunology Program and the Stanford Cancer Center (  His area of study focuses on understanding both the mechanisms of disease (cancer, infection and genetic diseases), and the complex genetic programs of mammalian development and stem cell biology.  His group has developed methods that simultaneously reveal the nuances, and the overall picture of cellular and molecular processes in a living animal.  These approaches allow for rapid assessment of the effects of antineoplastic therapies, antibiotics or antiviral drugs, revealing possible modes of action, which result in significantly more information than can be obtained using a vivisectionist approach in that the animals are living and the data is obtained in real-time.
A goal of the Contag Laboratory is to:
1. Develop tools that make the body essentially transparent for scientific discovery,
2. Use these tools to understand how pathogens cause disease and how the host organism responds to these pathogens,
3. Use these tools to understand how the immune system monitors cell transformation in cancer, and
4. Use these tools to understand the regulatory networks that control cell migration and development.
Contag's experimental approach is based on the observation that light can pass through mammalian tissues.  The genes originating from fireflies and other "glow-in-the-dark" (bioluminescent) organisms serve to mark mammalian cells and pathogens. These marked entities are then used in animal models of human biology and disease, and the light that they produce is externally monitored to reveal levels of expression, growth rate, or movement within tissue and organs.
Recently, Contag et al. has revealed the kinetics of stem cell engraftment and hematopoietic reconstitution, elucidated the nature of minimal residual disease states following cancer therapy and identified tissue sites that pathogens use to evade the host immune response.
To read more about Dr. Christopher Contag, please click on  
Lab members include:
Michael Bachmann, Yuan Cao, Tim Doyle, Patrick Eimerman, Emilio Gonzalez, Henry Haeberle, Michael Mandella, Laura Bronsart, Jonathan Hardy, Andrew Ladd, Irfan Ali Khan, Jocelyn Ko, Jonathan T.C. Liu, Wibool Piyawattanametha, Jennifer Prescher, Hyejun Ra, Tobi Schmidt, and Mark Sellmyer.  To read more, please click on  
Abbreviated List of Recent Publications:
1. Helms, M.W., Kemming, D., Contag, CH, Pospisil, H, Bartkowiak, K, Wang, A, Chang, SY, Buerger, H, Brandt, BH (2009). TOB1 is regulated by EGF-dependent HER2 and EGFR signaling, is highly phosphorylated, and indicates poor prognosis in node-negative breast cancer. Cancer Res69, 5049-5056.
2. Watkins, GA, Jones, EF, Shell, MS, VanBrocklin, HF, Pan, M-H, Hanrahan, SM, Feng, JJ, He, J, Sounni, NE, Dill, KA, Contag, CH, Coussens, LM, Franc, BL. (2009) Development of an optimized activatable MMP-14 targeted SPECTimaging probe. Bioorg Med Chem 17:653-659.
3. Hotson, AN, Hardy, JW, Hale, MB, Contag, CH and Nolan, GP (2009) The T cell intracellular signaling network is reprogrammed within hours of bacteremia via secondary signals. J. Immunol. 182: 7558-7568.
4. Mackanos, MA, Larabi, M, Shinde, R, Simanovskii, DM, Guccione, S, Contag, CH (2009) Laser-induced disruption of systemically administered liposomes for targeted drug delivery. J Biomed Optics 14(4): 044009.
To read more about Dr. Contag's publications, please click on
International Workshop on NanoBioPhotonics - October 26-29, 2009
Drs. Frank Chuang and Thomas Huser from CBST are currently attending the International Workshop on NanoBioPhotonics in Marseille, France.  They will give invited talks and represent CBST as 2 of the 6 participants from the USA. Colleagues from French, American and Japanese universities are also invited. The workshop participants will discuss their recent research in nanobiophotonics, as well as future scope, strategies, and the expected impact of their work on society.  This is the second Japanese -French workshop on NanoBioPhotonics and the first American - French meeting on NanoBioPhotonics. 
To read more, please click on 
CBST Education Highlights
ET-CURE and CURE Present at the UC Davis Cancer Center's 15th Annual Cancer Research Symposium
Undergraduates participating in the Emerging Technologies-Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (ET-CURE) program and high school students participating in the CURE program presented their summer research at the UC Davis Cancer Center's 15th Annual Cancer Research Symposium on September 24th and 25th 2009.  ET-CURE student Tem Woldeyesus was awarded a $500 cash prize for winning first place and having the overall best poster presented at the symposium.  Additionally there were four $250 cash awards for Outstanding CURE and ET-CURE poster presentations.  Tem Wodeyesus and Joaquin Lopez received awards for the Outstanding ET-CURE Poster Presentations and Nicholas Banford and Brian Chan received awards for the Outstanding CURE Poster Presentations.  Congratulations to all of our students for a job well done!
CURE Students at the 2009 UCD Cancer Center Poster Symposium
Pictured from L to R: Brian Chan and Nicholas Banford.
Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO)
Ms. Bevin Lin, a graduate student at CBST, attended the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) this past June 3-4, 2009.  As a conference presenter and Capitol Hill Day participant, Ms. Bevin Lin had the chance to meet with the office of United States Senators Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, and Congressman Mike Thompson to lobby for increased investments in R&D with an emphasis on NSF, NIST, DOE and DOD funding.  It was a great experience for Ms. Lin to be at the heart of our nation's capitol in the tunnels of the House and Senate specifically to help impact sustained and increased funding for science and education.
Victoria Lee - From CBST Intern to Medical School Student and Second Lieutenant in the Army
Victoria LeeMy experience with CBST started with taking the Intro to Biophotonics Integrated Studies class taught by Drs. Marco Molinaro and James Shackelford in 2005. The next year, I became a summer intern under Dr. Ana Corbacho's supervision and worked in Dr. Thomas Huser's lab with Dr. Samantha Fore. I had limited prior lab experience, but I was able to use the Picoquant Microtime 200 confocal microscope system for experiments utilizing single molecule fluorescence. Working in Dr. Huser's lab was a great experience for me. I got to work with the other grad students at Oak Park and visitors. It's a pretty great feeling for an undergrad to be able to show grad students how to use a microscope system.  I truly felt like a part of the lab; I sat in on journal club meetings and weekly lab meetings. In fact, I enjoyed working in the lab so much that I stayed with CBST for two years. And although I'm not currently doing research, my good experiences with CBST have kept me open to the possibility of doing research in the future.
After graduation, I headed off to Philadelphia for medical school. I'm a second year student at Temple University School of Medicine. I live in downtown Philadelphia, a block from City Hall, and in the middle of the action. Med school is as tough as expected and entails more studying than I've ever done before, but I've still found time to get involved in extracurriculars. I volunteer at community Hepatitis B screenings held by the Hepatitis B Foundation. I also enjoy helping out at health fairs. This fall, I'm learning ER skills in an elective course, which takes place in the Emergency Department.  Right now, I'm beginning to practice history-taking and physical exams on patients in the hospital. I've also been in the simulation center learning clinical skills such as lumbar puncture, arterial blood gas sampling, and putting in a nasogastric tube.
Aside from going to medical school across the country from home, the next biggest change in my life is becoming a second lieutenant in the Army. As a recipient of the Health Professions Scholarship, the Army pays for my tuition and books. I also receive a monthly stipend for various living expenses. This past summer, I spent six weeks in officer's basic training in San Antonio. It was a unique and challenging experience. I learned more about being in the Army and my role as a medical officer.  I still have years of medical training ahead of me, but I look forward to taking care of our men and women in uniform.
~Victoria Lee
CBST Knowledge Transfer Highlights
New Feature on
The portal is a social knowledge network that leverages both vetted information and social content to create a collaborative community, providing the medium for the Biophotonics4Life Consortium participants to communicate and collaborate.
We've recently added a new feature on the website.  Under the heading Journals, the most recent issue's Table of Contents for a number of journals relevant to the biophotonics community are provided, such as PNAS, Journal of Biomedical Optics, Journal of Biophotonics among others.  Thus, busy researchers can easily scan current issues and follow the links to the articles of interest on the original journals' websites. 

Additional features are in development. We encourage you to try the new Journals feature and send us your feedback, comments and suggestions via or by sending an e-mail to

For more information, contact Gabriela Lee, Director of Partnerships and New Program Development, at or 916-734-1775.
Dr. Madhu Sharma Presents at CBST's Brown Bag Entrepreneur Series
On Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 (12-1 PM) Madhu Sharma, PhD presented a talk, "Will it fly? How to know if your invention has wings.", at the CBST "Dragons' Den" Brown Bag Entrepreneurship Series.  Dr. Sharma is an IP Officer at UC Davis InnovationAccess, where she is responsible for the management of UC Davis' intellectual property, including discoveries, patent filings, and licensing activities, as well as promoting UC Davis as a world leader in innovation.
She brings rich experience from academic research as well as over 5 years of business consulting experience in Healthcare working as a consultant at Frost & Sullivan.  At Frost & Sullivan, she led several projects related to market research, product & market forecasting, opportunity assessment, competitive Analysis, customer Identification, segmentation & profiling technologies. She has a Ph.D. in Biophysics from Boston University and a post doctoral fellowship from University of Texas Medical Center, Houston.
Her presentation covered perspectives on market and competitive analysis for new technologies. She also presented analysis/steps to evaluate commercial potential of inventions particularly medical technologies.
Common Themes and Lessons from Scientists Who Founded Startup Companies
Scientific founders play a key role in raising a new company's scientific profile and in securing funding from Angles, VCs or grants.   But what happens after that? A recent article in Nature Biotech looked at the choices made by eight scientists who founded companies.  I'll walk through some of the lessons that the Nature article talks about.   You can find the full article at

What drives a scientist to start a company?: Finding a niche
All of the founders saw something extraordinary in their research, which they felt could be the basis of a company.  This is hardly newsworthy.   Most researchers start companies based on......their research.  
First steps and missteps
All of the founders also said that the the first time starting a company can be tough.  This is also hardly newsworthy.   There are all sorts of obstacles that a startup faces, and no one is experienced in handling all of them.   But it is always interesting to hear about how creative people overcame the obstacles they faced.   The Nature article talks about one person, Mike Brann who attempted to commercialize his genetic research at NIH.   But his inexperience with business and the restrictions placed on him by the NIH made this first outing difficult.  So he stopped.  Later on, he started smaller and let it grow gradually, establishing commercial contracts to keep the company afloat.  This is a particularly useful model in todays unreasonably tight investment market.  
People, people, people
VCs talk about this all the time.   But the other team members that the founder brings aboard are critical to the success of the company.   Vidar Hansson, founder and CEO of photodynamic therapy firm Photocure (Oslo, Norway), finds that the intellectual capital of a company rests not just in the number of patents a company has acquired, but in the minds of the people who work there.  
The great juggling act
Some people in the article split their time between business and science; others chose to stick with one or the other.   Certain scientists say that to do good science, you have to step away from the business side of the company. Brann, who serves as CSO at ACADIA, gave up the role of CEO early on, as he felt that the fiscal responsibilities of being CEO got in the way of doing good science. "There is a conflict of interest, which in my opinion doesn't work in the long term," he says.
So what does it take?
More important than the trappings of a company is the will to succeed. In the early days of PhotoCure, Hansson remembers only one thing mattered-the idea that they were going to make it as a company. "We had no telephones, no computers or any other essential equipment, but we did have a very strong ambition-and that is very important to any new company," he says.
~ Tod Stoltz, Industry Relations & Business Planning Manager at CBST
Awards and Recognitions
Tun et. al. publish in Bioconjugate Chemistry
Maung T. Nyunt, Christopher W. Dicus, Yi-Yao Cui, M. Cecilia Yappert, Thomas R. Huser, Michael H. Nantz and Jian Wu.  Physico-Chemical Characterization of Polylipid Nanoparticles for Gene Delivery to the Liver.  Bioconjugate Chemistry.  October 27, 2009.  Articles ASAP.  DOI: 10.1021/bc900150v.
Polylipid nanoparticles (PLNP) have been shown to be less toxic and very effective in delivering genes in the treatment of liver injury in mice. The authors used Raman spectroscopy as an analytical tool for characterizing single Polylipid nanoparticles (PLNP), PLNP-derived polyplexes, polycationic lipid (PCL) and lipofectamine complexes with plasmid DNA. Using automated fluorescence deconvolution microscopy, they were able to dynamically monitor the PLNP and lipofectamine transfection processes in live cells over time.

To read more, please click on
Greg McNerney Received an NSF DDEP Award - cont'd 
Mr. Greg McNerney, a graduate student at CBST, received an NSF DDEP award for his proposal "International: Tracking Echovirus I early entry into host cells". This will allow him to spend a total of 4 months at the laboratory of Dr. Varpu Marjomäki at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland.  Dr. Varpu Marjomäki is a collaborator of Dr. Thomas Huser's, one of our Chief Scientists at CBST, and is considered one of the leading groups in studying Echovirus I by light microscopy. Congratulations to Greg!
Calendar of Events
Nov. 5 - QED@QB3 Entrepreneurs' Discussion Series: Coming to Terms with your Term Sheet (12-1 PM)
Where: UCSF Mission Bay, Byers Hall 212
Speakers: Tom Duley & Sarita K. Jain
Lunch will be provided   
Nov. 5-6 - BayBio BioBasics Briefing (2 day event; 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM with breakfast beginning at 8:00 AM)
Where: Latham & Watkins LLP,140 Scott Dr., Menlo Park, CA 94025-1008
Parking: Ample parking available at no cost in the employee lot
Nov. 10 - SARTA's Leadership Series Presents: "PR, Marketing & Social Medial Trends for 2010" (8:30-11:30 AM)
Sponsored by Drexel University Center for Graduate Studies
Where: TBD
Nov. 19 - BayBio Therapeutic Breakfast Series: Running a Virtual Company (8:00-10:00 AM)
Where: Elan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 180 Oyster Point Blvd., South San Francisco, CA, 94080
Attire: Business attire suggested
Cost: Early Bird Registration through Nov. 17: $10.00 - BayBio Members; $20.00 - Non-Members 
Dec. 9-10 - BIOMEDevice 2009 
Where: San Jose McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, CA
Grants and Funding Opportunities
Grants of Interest & UCD Limited Submissions
Deadlines for grants of interest to the CBST community are listed at the Grants Calendar link below.  For additional information, please contact Gabriela Lee at  
To read more, please click here for a Grants Calendar
Thank You - Please Pass Along
We'll be sending out our CBST Newsletters once/month.  You can also access our archived newsletters by clicking on   
Please send your comments and suggestions to  We look forward to staying in touch and welcome news/highlights from your organization for inclusion in future newsletters.   
Please forward our CBST Newsletter along by CLICKING on the FORWARD EMAIL hyperlink at the bottom of this newsletter.  
Amy L. Gryshuk, Ph.D.
Director of New Ventures / UC Discovery Fellow
NSF Center for Biophotonics Science & Technology (CBST)
2700 Stockton Blvd., Suite 1400, Sacramento, CA 95817  
TEL (916)734-0785; FAX (916)703-5012