Noted Cancer Scholar Joins Jonsson School’s Bioengineering Team
A Leader in Image-Guided Intervention, Dr. Baowei Fei Has Helped Doctors Pinpoint Cells for Earlier Diagnosis
Dr. Baowei Fei, an imaging scientist and cancer scholar whose work has transformed medical imaging and cancer care, recently joined the Department of Bioengineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.
Dr. Baowei Fei
Fei, a professor of bioengineering, was previously an associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Fei, whose work has allowed physicians to pinpoint cancer cells for earlier diagnosis and treatment, is a leader in quantitative imaging and image-guided intervention.
“Dr. Fei is a world-class researcher in the area of image-guided intervention,” said Dr. Robert Rennaker, Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair in Bioengineering and head of the Department of Bioengineering. “Our ability to recruit faculty members of his caliber is what will propel UT Dallas to national prominence as we strengthen our partnership with UT Southwestern Medical Center.
“Our goal of becoming one of the premier research institutions in the U.S. will only happen if we continue to build our medical research program,” said Rennaker, who also is director of the Texas Biomedical Device Center. “Dr. Fei’s leadership in this area will, no doubt, help UT Dallas reach this lofty and worthy goal.”
Fei’s training and experience are in biomedical engineering, computer science, radiology and patient care. His research has led to quantitative bioimaging technologies that benefit human health, specifically in the areas of prostate cancer and head and neck cancers, as well as in heart disease.
Fei’s group developed a technology called the molecular imaging directed, 3D ultrasound-guided biopsy system, which improves upon 2D systems by allowing for earlier detection of potentially cancerous cells in the prostate. Fei led the first clinical trial of positron emission tomography (PET) combined with ultrasound fusion targeted biopsy of the prostate.
“With new imaging technology, we can detect diseases early, before they progress to lethal stages, improving quality of life, lowering health care costs and, most importantly, saving lives.”
“Imaging technology is a top advance in health care over the last century and is a driving force in precision medicine,” Fei said. “By quantifying the size and activity of cellular, molecular and metabolic happenings, we can better distinguish tissue that is normal from malignant in an accurate, precise and consistent manner. With new imaging technology, we can detect diseases early, before they progress to lethal stages, improving quality of life, lowering health care costs and, most importantly, saving lives.”
Fei is currently principal investigator on three National Institutes of Health grants with combined funding of $6.8 million. The projects include developing further advancements of the image-guided biopsy system, working with industry to disseminate the imaging technology more widely, and using imaging systems in cardiac procedures.
Fei’s research group also is investigating a technology called hyperspectral imaging for its potential use in biological and medical applications, such as real-time detection of cancer cells during surgery for complete removal of the tumor. The technology provides information about healthy and diseased tissues based on how they interact with various wavelengths of light.
Fei has received numerous honors and awards, including the Distinguished Investigator Award from the Academy for Radiology & Biomedical Imaging Research and the Young Investigator Award from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. In 2009 he was recognized as a Distinguished Cancer Scholar by the Georgia Cancer Coalition. Fei also is an editor or an editorial board member for multiple peer-reviewed academic journals.
After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biomedical engineering from Xi’an Jiaotong University in China, Fei earned his first doctoral degree, in biomedical engineering, from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He then earned both a master’s degree in computing and information science and his second doctoral degree, in systems engineering, from Case Western Reserve University.
Fei joined the faculty of Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences and the joint Department of Biomedical Engineering between Emory University and Georgia Tech. He also held appointments in the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, and Georgia Tech’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Bioengineering.
“In our research and clinical trials at Emory University, when patients came to see the urologist for targeted biopsy of the prostate, I was able to be there with them from the beginning of their care until its end,” he said. “I would get to know the patients and sometimes their families. These experiences stoked my passion for quantitative bioimaging and image-guided intervention because you can really see that the technology we created actually helped save lives.”
Fei said he was attracted to UT Dallas in part because of the fast growth of and opportunities in the bioengineering department and the University as a whole, as well as the University’s successful working relationship with UT Southwestern.
“As a biomedical engineer who has worked in clinical settings for more than a decade, I am passionate about bridging the interdisciplinary programs in order to educate our students and bring new technologies to improve human health,” Fei said.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].