University of Arizona researcher Jennifer Barton is leading a two-year, $1 million project funded by the National Cancer Institute to identify imaging biomarkers of ovarian cancer, the most deadly gynecological cancer in the United States.
This work may enable the first effective screening system for ovarian cancer, said Barton, interim director of the UA’s BIO5 Institute.
“Located deep in the body, with few early symptoms and no effective screening techniques, ovarian cancer has remained stubbornly difficult to understand, much less effectively combat,” said Barton, professor of biomedical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, optical sciences, and agricultural and biosystems engineering.
In fact, 70 percent of women diagnosed have advanced ovarian cancer that has spread beyond the fallopian tubes and ovaries to other organs, she said.
In collaboration with UA researchers in physiology, medical imaging, and obstetrics and gynecology, Barton is working to identify imaging biomarkers, or subtle changes in the tissue that can be detected by sensitive optical methods, for ovarian cancer in mice. The mice spontaneously develop ovarian tumors and mimic hormonal conditions of postmenopausal women, who are most often diagnosed with the disease.
Arizona BioIndustry Association award recipients include Rick Myers, chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents; Jennifer Barton, UA associate vice president for research and professor of biomedical engineering; Dr. David S. Alberts of the UA Cancer Center; and Dr. Raymond L. Woosley of the Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics.
Several University of Arizona faculty members, companies with UA ties and the chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents have received awards from the Arizona BioIndustry Association, the state’s biotech trade association.
“Everyone at the University of Arizona should be proud of the tremendous success of our colleagues demonstrated by the many awards to UA faculty, staff and business spinoffs at the AZBio awards gala this week and by our Arizona Board of Regents chairman, Rick Myers,” said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. “I was thrilled to represent us and to witness that success.”
The inaugural head of the biomedical engineering department, Jennifer Barton, is adding yet another role to her growing list of distinguished contributions at the University of Arizona. She was recently appointed to the new position of associate vice president for research, a job that involves expanding collaborative research efforts campuswide and strengthening partnerships with the private sector.
“Jennifer Barton is the ideal person for this position, given her broad range of experience in leading biomedical engineering and serving as assistant director of the BIO5 Institute,” said Leslie Tolbert, senior vice president for research. “I am thrilled that she will bring her experience and talents to the research office, where she can have a positive impact on even more UA researchers.”
Barton will focus on growing federal and state research funding and private sector support to expand facilities shared by the University’s colleges and give researchers across campus access to the most advanced equipment and expertise.
“One of the reasons I came to the University of Arizona was because it was so interdisciplinary. In this position, I’ll have an opportunity to facilitate these activities even more,” said Barton. “I’ve been asked specifically to nurture the collaborations that are important to scientific and societal issues.”
The UA College of Engineering recently celebrated the inauguration of its first new academic department in more than 30 years.
The department of biomedical engineering, widely known as BME, is the newest undergraduate program in the College of Engineering, indeed at the UA.
U.S. News & World Report recently reported that more jobs will be created in biomedical engineering than in any other profession during the next decade. The report said employment of biomedical engineers is expected to grow by “a whopping 72 percent,” creating nearly 12,000 jobs by 2018.
Professor Jennifer Barton is head of the new department of biomedical engineering, as well as assistant director of the BIO5 Institute and a member of the Arizona Cancer Center.
Speaking at the departmental kickoff event April 20, Barton reminded the audience that biomedical engineering at UA is not new. “The roots of biomedical engineering at the UA go back to the 1960s, when faculty in the College of Engineering joined up with physicians in the newly formed College of Medicine to study cardiovascular problems and advanced medical instrumentation,” Barton said.