Cancer cells

WEDNESDAYS, 2-4:50 p.m., FALL 2017

In the United States in 2017, there will be more than 1.5 million newly diagnosed cases of cancer, and nearly 600,000 will die from the disease. One out of three people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during the course of their life. Annual expenses for the medical care of these patients will total more than $125 billion, but even this staggering figure ignores the broader costs to society – financially as well as socially.

Despite these daunting numbers, we are at the cusp of a revolution in the way we understand, diagnose, treat, and present cancer.

Cancer is not a single disease but rather, a bewildering constellation of  various classifications and subtypes. Any cell type in the body may lead to its own unique form of cancer, and even two people with exactly the same type and stage of cancer, treated in exactly the same way, may not have the same outcome. Despite these continuing challenges, we have never understood the basic biology of cancer better than we do now, and current research has led to great strides in the way we treat – and often cure – many types of cancer.

There is however significant process to be made, scientifically as well as societally. How do we allocate limited resources to combat cancer? Can we better treat patients as a whole person, rather than just their disease? The enormous funding and attention that cancer has received also raises concerns about the "cancer/industrial complex." Are we as a nation prioritizing the right things when it comes to treating an aging population? This course will explore these broad and complex issues that cut across science, medicine, industry and society. 

Man in white coat is shown in labAbout Timothy Muldoon: 

Timothy Muldoon’s research centers on the development of advanced optical imaging and spectroscopy tools to improve detection and clinical management of human disease, with particular emphasis placed on endoscopic imaging tools that improve detection and clinical management in gastrointestinal cancers. Another major research project is the development of a low-cost blood cell analyzer system, capable of providing important information to patients and clinicians in demanding environments within minutes.

In each of these projects, undergraduates work alongside graduate research assistants extensively, and four honors students have participated in peer-reviewed publications coming from this work. For more information visit his Translational Biophotonics and Imaging Laboratory website.  Muldoon has mentored seven honors students since the biomedical engineering department was created in 2012. He serves as departmental honors coordinator, organizing an end-of-year, conference-style research symposium that gives each student a forum in which to present their work.

Muldoon’s research group was recently awarded a significant R15 grant from the National Cancer Institute for a project titled "The role of optical biomarkers in endoscopic detection and therapeutic monitoring of gastrointestinal cancer." He has received the Honors College Distinguished Faculty Award (2015) and Outstanding Teaching (2013) and Outstanding Service (2015) awards from the Department of Biomedical Engineering.