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Rohit Bhargava, a Founder and Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, received the 2022 NY/NJ Section of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy Gold Medal Award on Wednesday, November 16, in an award session at the Eastern Analytical Symposium (EAS) in Plainsboro, New Jersey.
Bhargava received a B. Tech. dual degree in Chemical Engineering and Polymer Science from the Indian Institute of Technology, in New Delhi, and his PhD in Macromolecular Science and Engineering from Case Western Reserve University under Prof. Jack L. Koenig, developing infrared (IR) imaging techniques applied to polymer composites. Following his PhD, Bhargava was a Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health with Ira W. Levin, developing IR imaging tools for molecular digital pathology. Bhargava joined the University of Illinois in 2005.
At the Cancer Center at Illinois at the University of Illinois, Bhargava runs the Chemical Imaging and Structures Laboratory. His research team has performed large-scale studies on prostate, breast, colon, brain, and skin tissue samples. His laboratory also focuses on fundamental science by developing optical theory for spectroscopy, where his team has created cell culture methods for 3D tumor mimicking systems—building a 3D printer to develop biomedical scaffolds and engineering cancer models. Instruments developed in the laboratory have been used to provide new means to characterize and define cancer using chemical imaging that is leading to the emergence of the field of digital molecular pathology. Using 3D printing and engineered tumor models, his most recent research seeks to create designer cancers in the laboratory.
Bhargava’s research in optical theory and numerical methods formed the theoretical foundation of IR imaging, leading to new instrumentation and technologies. He expanded the field of high-performance IR imaging, using it for pathology, and led the first large-scale validation of spectroscopic imaging for prostate cancer pathology, which is often cited as the gold standard protocol in the field.
Bhargava’s current research interests include developing IR chemical imaging, high quality tissue classification using artificial intelligence methods including deep learning, nanoscale IR chemical imaging, and applications in cancer pathology. He has authored and co-authored more than 200 publications and book chapters. His research has been recognized by several national and international awards including the Pittsburgh Spectroscopy Award (2022), Ellis R. Lippincott Award, Optica, Coblentz Society, and Society for Applied Spectroscopy (2021), Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2020), Beckman Vision and Spirit Award (2017), Agilent Thought Leader Award (2016), Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2015), Fellow, Society for Applied Spectroscopy (2015), William F. Meggers Award, Society for Applied Spectroscopy (2014), Craver Award (2013), and FACSS Innovation Award (2012).