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Sloan Kettering's Daniel Heller visits Lehigh for fall seminar series

A graduate of Weill Cornell Medical College, Dr. Daniel Heller, a leading researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, recently spoke at Lehigh University as part of its chemical and biomolecular engineering fall seminar series.

Dedicated to bringing together engineers across disciplines at Lehigh, the seminar series focuses on topics like energy, health and biomolecular sciences, catalysis and interfacial sciences, and process systems. It is a weekly event available to all Lehigh undergraduate and graduate students.

Focusing primarily on health sciences and new materials, Dr. Heller gave a detailed presentation on the research currently being done in hopes of better identification of cancerous cells. Heller's lab team focuses on the development of nanoscale sensors used to detect analytes in living biological systems, used for cancer identification. Exploring different fluorescence levels of single-walled carbon nanotubes allows for their use as devices for molecular imaging and analyte quantification. Innovations in imaging techniques have allowed for optimized detection of potentially cancerous cells by probes, allowing doctors and clinicians quicker and reliable information about their patients.

Among Dr. Heller’s team is Lehigh alumnus Dan Roxbury, ‘07, ‘12G, who has contributed significantly to developments in nanoscale technology, receiving a $150K grant from the American Cancer Society - Roaring Fork Valley Donor Group.

"If you can detect biomarkers in the blood at a super low concentration, you can save so many lives; the problem is detecting cancer when it is late and there isn’t as much you can do," Roxbury explained in an article on cancer.org.

Roxbury’s contributions have helped Dr. Heller’s research team make great headway in minimizing the invasiveness of cancer-identifying procedures.

Dr. Mayuresh Kothare, department head of chemical engineering, reflected on Heller’s presentation and Dr. Roxbury’s contribution to the research that has been done.

Dr. Heller’s presentation "highlighted the role of interdisciplinary teams in contemporary research programs," said Kothare. "His research group has chemical engineers, biologists, chemists and he also interacts with colleagues in other disciplines that are relevant to solving the problems he has posed,”

Indeed, Dr. Heller’s dual degrees in history and chemistry led him to Memorial Sloan Kettering, which had the right mix of cross disciplinary interactions needed for his research.

-Simona Galant '18 is a writer with the Dean’s Office of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science.

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