HOUSTON (Feb. 2, 2009) – Stephen Wong, Ph.D, P.E., was recently awarded the John S. Dunn, Sr. Distinguished Endowed Chair in Biomedical Engineering at The Methodist Hospital. Wong, who holds more than $6 million in NIH funding, will leverage this chair to pursue more innovative research that combines genomics with advanced imaging and biosensing techniques for more personalized medical care.
In his version of personalized medicine, Wong is coupling high throughput genomics and advanced mathematical algorithms with biological studies to identify the best combination of drugs for specific types of cancer within certain individuals. His goal is to take all of the guess work out of treatment decisions, saving cost and time, both of which are precious commodities for patients with cancer. He is also extending this approach to combat neurodegeneration.
He is also in the process of developing what he calls a “lab in a needle,” enabling physicians to make on-the-spot diagnoses and initiate suitable therapies right away. It can also reduce the time it takes for physicians to determine if a certain chemotherapy is toxic to a patient. For example, rather than waiting for blood tests to determine this, the lab in a needle will be inserted directly into the liver, which processes toxins, and results will be immediate. This could help determine if the patient’s medications need to be changed well before debilitating side-effects are felt.
“In his short time at Methodist, Wong has already created an advanced systems-oriented bioinformatics program, designed to develop diagnostic tests and treatments for personalized medicine,” said Dr. Michael Lieberman, director of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute. “The focus of his research is to identify early diagnostic markers in order to predict, prevent and develop individualized treatments for disease.”
“Being granted this chair by the John S. Dunn Research Foundation will help push our cutting-edge research forward,” said Wong, who also holds the positions of director of biomedical informatics at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute (TMHRI), chief of medical physics and vice chair of the department of radiology at The Methodist Hospital, and professor of radiology at Cornell University. “We will be able to use these funds to think outside the box and develop completely new ways to diagnose and treat individuals in a highly personal and effective way.”
As the holder of the John S. Dunn, Sr. Distinguished Endowed Chair in Biomedical Engineering, Wong will initiate pilot research projects in biomedical engineering, increase educational opportunities for the next generation of biomedical engineers, and assist in leveraging additional support from the NIH, other peer-review agencies and industry partners.