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Brian Solomon’s Guide To the Stars: Engineering Professor Brian Pogue

Dartmouth has a wealth of experienced professors who lead their respective research fields, while also working closely with students — inspiring them in the classroom and leading them in laboratory environments. And while at Dartblog we talk frequently about problems that need to be fixed at the College, there are still many bright spots. Our professors deserve more recognition for their achievements. As such, this is one of a series of posts that shines a spotlight on the best professors in Hanover:

Brian Pogue1.jpgBrian Pogue is a Professor of Engineering at the Thayer School, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the College and an Adjunct Professor of Surgery at the Geisel School. That multi-disciplinary status is the result of his advanced research into the uses of lasers for diagnosing and treating diseases like cancer that are currently incurable.

Pogue hails from Ontario, where his father was a professor and his mother a teacher. He did all of his schooling in Canada, earning a Bachelors and a Masters degree in physics from York University and a Ph.D. in medical/nuclear physics at McMaster University (where he served as captain of the McMaster physics department baseball team and read Kurt Vonnegut’s entire works). He completed his Ph.D. in 1996 and immediately joined Dartmouth’s faculty.

In the twenty years since, Pogue has also served as director of the graduate programs at the Thayer School (2005-2008) and as Dartmouth’s Dean of Graduate Studies (2008-2012). In his time as dean, Pogue increased stipends for graduate students, created the PhD/MBA program with Tuck, and pushed the graduate schools to increase their visibility to the outside world. Pogue currently teaches a variety of engineering graduate courses, as well as one undergraduate course, ENGS 16: Biomedical Engineering for Global Health.

Where Pogue really stands out is in his research. According to Google Scholar, he has more than 16,000 individual citations and a stellar h-index of 71. In January the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering announced Pogue’s induction into its esteemed College of Fellows.

Pogue leads multiple group lab efforts at Dartmouth, including Optics in Medicine and the new Center for Imaging Medicine, which has 16,000ft² of research space on the DHMC campus. Pogue’s labs bring together researchers with backgrounds in widely disparate areas such as optical engineering, chemistry, biology, medicine and software to study ways that laser imaging technologies can be used to fight cancer. The field is called molecular spectroscopy, “the study of absorption of light by molecules.”

Many forms of tumors are incurable today, Pogue says, because of the complexity of their molecular signatures, wich we must decode in order to defeat them. He has developed a system for molecular imaging that examines living tissue with lasers to quantify the molecular features of cancerous tumors better than long-used methods of static imaging. Pogue also works on techniques of photodynamic therapy, a light-activated chemotherapy currently used in treating esophageal and other forms of cancer.

Pogue’s work is coming to hospitals, which will be able to integrate his new technology into existing imaging machines like MRIs and CTs. To work on this effort, he co-founded and serves as president of a new biomedical startup, DoseOptics. The company has already obtained $1.4 million in initial grant funding from the National Institutes of Health.


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