Date: September 01, 2009
NAME: Gracie Vargas, Ph.D.
PRESENT POSITION AND ADDRESS:
Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology
University of Texas Medical Branch
301 University Blvd, Rt 1156
Galveston, Texas 77555-1156
Phone: (409) 772-6514
1994 B.A. Physics, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN
1997 M.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin
2001 PhD Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin
Dissertation title: Reduction of Light Scattering in Biological Tissue: Implications for Optical Diagnostics and Therapeutics (2001 Outstanding Dissertation Award-Honorable Mention)
PROFESSIONAL AND TEACHING EXPERIENCE: (academic; non-academic)
2001-2002: Postdoctoral Fellow, Biomedical Engineering Laser Laboratory, University of Texas at Austin, Austin TX
2002-2009: Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience & Cell Biology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
2002-Present Scientist, Director for the Advanced Bio-Optics Imaging Laboratory, Center for Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
2003-Present Graduate Faculty, Associate Member of the Cellular Physiology and Molecular Biophysics Graduate Program, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
2003-Present Graduate Faculty, Associate Member of the Cell Biology Graduate Program, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
2008-Present Co-Director, Optical Imaging Core, Galveston National Laboratory, Galveston, TX
Area of Research:
My primary area of interest is in the integration of engineering principles with basic and translational research. Specifically, I am interested in applying my area of expertise in biophotonics/biomedical optics and imaging to better characterize and understand physiological and pathological processes toward the development of diagnostic and therapeutic solutions. To realize these efforts it is my aim to lead and participate in multidisciplinary teams. Examples of my current research include:
2) Enhanced in vivo optical sensing and molecular imaging through the use of exogenous agents to reduce tissue optical scattering. This research explores the use of chemical agents for reversibly reducing light attenuation in tissue to allow deeper light penetrance for optical sensing and imaging applications. This research explores the mechanisms and dynamics of ‘optical clearing’ to better engineer practical approaches for utilizing the technique in sensing and imaging. The optical clearing technique developed during my graduate work has also made it to the clinical testing stage in which the method has been used to improve laser therapeutics for tattoo removal.
R01 CA127429-01 (PI:Vargas) 04/01/2008-03/30/20012 33% effort
Nonlinear Optical Staging of Epithelial Neoplasms
The major goal of the project is the development and evaluation of a noninvasive imaging approach using multiphoton autofluorescence microscopy and second harmonic generation microscopy to stage early neoplastic lesions in oral mucosa.
Role: Principle Investigator
Co-Investigators: Dr. Vicente Resto and Dr. Susan McCammon, Dept. of Otolaryngology; Dr. Suimin Qiu, Dept. of Pathology
BES-0528986 (PI: Vargas) 09/01/2005-10/30/2009 10% effort
National Science Foundation
The major goal of this project to investigate the use of chemical agents for enhanced light propagation in highly scattering tissue and enhanced optical sensing of molecular signals in vivo.
Role: Principle Investigator
1R21AI081058 – 01 (Lemon) 2009-2011 10% effort
Imaging innate immune responses to HCV
Key Personnel: Lemon and Vargas
The major goal of this project is to develop advanced imaging approaches through nanoparticle targeting for imaging molecular biomarkers of immunity in Hepatitis C Virus.
Role: Co-Investigator. To provide expertise on nonlinear optical microscopy and imaging of targeted nanoparticles for highly sensitive and specific detection of molecular markers of immune responses in HCV, particularly in the liver – a traditionally difficult tissue to optically image.
N01-HD-5-3407 (Bourne) 09/30/2005-9/29/2008 10% effort
The major goals of this project are to evaluate colposcopy for use in vaginal product assessment and development using small animal models as well as examine the relationship between detectable intravaginal epithelial lesions and susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections. Optical imaging plays a role in the assessment of epithelial injury.
Role: Co-Investigator, assist in optical evaluation of the effects of microbicides on cervicovaginal epithelium.
U19 AI60598 (Paull) 09/30/04-10/1/09 10% effort
Major goals of the project are the development and testing of combinational microbicides. This project focuses on the preclinical and clinical development of dendrimer-based combination microbicides. Our project focuses on the development and use of new optical imaging systems to assess microbicide safety in non-human primates and women. A supplement project explores large animal models for assessing microbicide safety (Supplement PI: Motamedi).
Role: Co-investigator, Primary role is to provide the confocal imaging expertise and develop new in vivo imaging approaches as well as image processing algorithms for detecting differential effects of topical microbicides on large animal cervicovaginal epithelium.
R21 AI076062 (Motamedi) 6/1/2007 - 5/30/2012 15% effort
The major goal of this project is to develop an endoscopic confocal imaging-based approach that can be used to assess the degree of injury induced by microbicides and correlate the results of imaging studies to susceptibility to genital infection in mice cervicovaginal tract and rectum caused by HSV-2.
Role: Co-investigator, Primary role is to develop/test new in vivo imaging approaches for detecting epithelial toxicity resulting from topical chemicals in mouse cervicovaginal epithelium. Primary expertise utilized is small animal imaging by confocal microscopy and optical coherence tomography.
5UC7AI070083 (Lemon) 03/1/2006-02/30/2011 10% effort
Galveston National Laboratory
Role: Responsible for tasks related to integrating advanced imaging technologies and services into the Galveston National Laboratory, including the setup of two laboratories with confocal/multiphoton microscopy capabilities, one at BSL2 and another at BSL3, and initiating collaborations with investigators in the GNL.
R01 (Pierangeli) 12/01/2009-11/30/2013
Antiphospholipid antibodies in lupus: new molecular targets for treatment,”
Co-Investigator at 5% effort
Role: My role will be to be the primary imaging investigator assisting in identification of quantum-dot targeted molecular markers for VCAM-1 and Tissue Factor-1
PI, John Sealy Faculty Recruitment Award, “Optical Imaging for the Study of Disease Processes,” 11/01/02-10/30/07. Faculty recruitment award to develop an advanced nonlinear optical imaging laboratory toward the study of disease.
Co-Investigator (PI: Motamedi) 10/01/2005-9/30/2008
NASA-Ames Research Center
Continuous and in situ based monitoring of biological systems for space
Role on Project: Nonlinear optical imaging of nanoparticle-targeted molecular markers.
Co-Investigator, 2R44AR046971-02 (PI:Nichols) 2006-6/30/2008 NIH
Optical Clearing of Skin for Cosmetic Laser Surgery
Role on project: Provide consultation on the tissue optical clearing method I developed during my graduate and postdoctoral work for the therapeutic application of tattoo removal by lasers.
Co-Investigator at UTMB, (PI: Motamedi) DARPA, U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity- “Tissue Constructs for Vaccine Testing,” 12/29/04-12/28/05. My role in this project is to develop advanced optical imaging solutions for evaluating ex vivo immune constructs.
Co-Investigator, (PI: Motamedi) DARPA, U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity- Co-Investigator at UTMB, “3D Tissue Constructs by Sequential Layering for EX-Vivo Immune System”, 10/01/02-09/30/04.
Co-Investigator, (PI: Leary) Nanoparticle Delivery of Repair Enzymes for Radiation Protection/DNA Damage, NASA, 12/21/01 9/29/04.
University of Texas Medical Branch
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences:
Member of the Admissions Committee of the Cell Biology Graduate Program Admissions Committee, University of Texas Medical Branch
Member of several Cellular Physiology & Biophysics Qualifying Exam Committees (2003-2007)
Lasers and Optics Session, 2005 Houston Society of Engineering in Medicine and Biology
Lasers and Optics Session, 2005 Houston Society of Engineering in Medicine and Biology
Scientific Sessions Chaired / Discussion Leader:
2005 Lasers and Optics Session, Houston Society of Engineering in Medicine and Biology.
2007 Lasers and Optics Session, Biophotonic Applications of Nanoparticles, Houston Society of Engineering in Medicine and Biology.
A. TEACHING RESPONSIBILITIES AT UTMB:
School of Medicine (SOM):
Facilitator, “Molecules, Cells, & Tissues,” UTMB School of Medicine, Fall 2005
Facilitator (alternate), “Molecules, Cells, & Tissues,” UTMB School of Medicine, Fall 2007
Facilitator (alternate), “Neuroscience and Human Behavior,” UTMB School of Medicine, Spring 2008
Facilitator, “Molecules, Cells, & Tissues,” UTMB School of Medicine, Fall 2008
Facilitator, “Neuroscience and Human Behavior,” UTMB School of Medicine, Scheduled for Spring 2009
In collaboration with other faculty developed a new imaging course focused on imaging fundamentals and applications in biology: Imaging in Biology.
2005 “Imaging in Biology” course (CPMB 6260)
2006 “Imaging in Biology” course (CPMB 6260)
2007 “Imaging in Biology” course (CPMB 6260)
2008 “Imaging in Biology” course (CPMB 6260)
1) Ju Sun, Ph.D (2003-2004); trained in nonlinear optical microscopy of neoplasia. Currently holds the position of Instructor Florida International Univ. since 2004.
2) ^ , Ph.D. (2003-2004); trained in basic optical microscopy and autofluorescence detection of metabolic signals in cells and tissues toward disease diagnosis. Currently a postdoctoral researcher at UTMB in Dept. Infectious Diseases.
3) Jianwu Ding (2005); trained in nonlinear optical microscopy; Currently Principal Laser Scientist, Akamai Physics, Inc., Las Cruces, NM
4) ^ (Jan 2006-Dec 2007, 2 years); trained in nonlinear optical microscopy and fiber-based delivery of femtosecond light for multiphoton microscopy; Awarded Cancer Center Multidisciplinary Fellowship. Currently a postdoctoral researcher at Texas A&M University.
1) Ki-Hong Kevin Ho, M.D. (2006-present) Mentored in nonlinear optical microscopy for the imaging of epithelial neoplasia and in vivo assessment of cox-2 inhibitor therapeutic effects by multiphoton autofluorescence. The project is in collaboration with medical faculty Dr. Susan McCammon, Dept. of Otolaryngology. 1) Evaluation of Celecoxib on Oral Carcinogenesis by in vivo Multiphoton Microscopy, The 7th International Conference on Head and Neck Cancer, July 20, 2008, San Francisco, CA; 2) Multiphoton autofluorescence for in vivo assessment of cox-2 inhibitor on oral neoplasia, SPIE Photonics West BIOS, Jan 25, 2009;
1) Eghtedari Mohammed, PhD Candidate: 2003; Trained in nonlinear optical microscopy for deep tissue imaging and in tissue engineered samples.
2)^ w, M.D./PhD Candidate: 2004; Trained in optical spectroscopy and nonlinear optical microscopy for visualization of amyloid protein aggregates.
3) Luke Koong, PhD Candidate Spring 2009; Trained in optical microscopy for live cell imaging and nanoparticle imaging
1) Gerardo Guerra, 2006; Summer Undergraduate Research Program. Training in optical microscopy of cells grown on nanoparticle scaffolds. Collaboration with Todd Pappas, PhD, UTMB.
2) Natalya Patrikeeva, Summer 2008 and Summer 2009. Undergraduate Research Assistant; Training in intravital nonlinear optical microscopy and image processing; Currently full-time student at Rice University.
Additional Trainees in cooperation with collaborating faculty in efforts to integrate advanced optical imaging knowledge with respective biological / clinical fields (see also Professional Skills):
1)^ h Graduate student; briefly trained in multiphoton microscopy of GFP labeled VEE in thick mouse tissue sections, approximately 1 month in summer 2003 (mentor: Dr. Scott Weaver, UTMB)
2) Eghtedari Mohammed, Graduate student; 2004-2007; Trained in nonlinear optical microscopy extensively for deep tissue imaging and in tissue engineered samples (mentor: Dr. Massoud Motamedi)
^ Graduate student. Advised on biomedical optics data analysis and interpretation 2003-2007 (mentor: Dr. Rinat Esinaliev, UTMB)
4) Adam Boretsky Graduate student; Training in biomedical optics and imaging. 2007-present; (mentor: Dr. Massoud Motamedi, UTMB).
5) ^ Graduate student; Trained in hamster dorsal skin flap preparation for optical imaging of in vivo skin microvasculature; training in optical clearing technique. 2005 (mentor: Dr. AJ Welch, Univ of Texas at Austin)
6) Piotr Rychahou, M.D. Medical Research Fellow in Cancer Center. Training in small animal in vivo molecular imaging by bioluminescence. 2006-2007 (mentor: Dr. Mark Evers)
7) Yuqiong Liang, PhD. Postdoctoral Trainee. Learning to image HCV antigens using targeted quantum dots in human liver sections using two-photon microscopy. 2006-present (mentor: Dr. Stanley Lemon)
8) ^ (Jun 2007-present) extensive hands-on training in confocal microscopy and nonlinear optical microscopy (mentor: Massoud Motamedi)
9) Carla Kantara (2007-present) Graduate student; Training in optical microscopy for imaging of tumor cell migration in 3D tissue engineered scaffolds. (mentor: Dr. Vicente Resto)
10) ^ (Jun 2005-Jun 2006) extensive year-long training in fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy using femtosecond laser excitation and combined with nonlinear optical microscopy; trained in organotypic brain slice imaging. Currently a Scientist at an industrial laser company. (co-mentors Todd Pappas and Massoud Motamedi)
c. Chair/Member of Ph.D. Supervisory Committee for:
2003-2006 Member of the supervisory committee of Bryce Portier, Cell Biology Graduate Program UTMB Graduated Dec. 2006
2003-2007 Member of the supervisory committee of Hans-Peter Brecht Cellular Physiology and Molecular Biophysics UTMB Graduated Dec 2007
2003-2008 Member of the supervisory committee of Eghtedari Mohammed, Cellular Physiology and Molecular Biophysics
2003 Member of the PhD qualifying exam, Andrey Bednov, Cellular Physiology and Molecular Biophysics, UTMB
2004 Member of the PhD qualifying exam, Jesong Park, Cellular Physiology and Molecular Biophysics, UTMB
2004 Member of the PhD qualifying exam, Eghtedari Mohammed, Cellular Physiology and Molecular Biophysics, UTMB
2006 Member of the PhD qualifying exam, Amialohi Eschie, Cellular Physiology and Molecular Biophysics, UTMB
2001 Teaching Assistant, “Laser-Tissue Interactions,” Univ of Texas at Austin
2000 Teaching Assistant, “Laser-Tissue Interactions,” Univ of Texas at Austin
1999 Teaching Assistant, “Laser-Tissue Interactions,” Univ of Texas at Austin
1997 Teaching Assistant, “Introduction to Mechanical Engineering,” Univ. of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
1994 Laboratory Teaching Assistant, “Physics for Life Scientists,” Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN.
1) Allison Readinger, medical student at UTMB; research project in morphological effects of hyperosmotic agents on vasculature imaged by low coherence optical technique, 2000
SPIE (International Society for Optical Engineering)
Journal Reviewer for
Lasers in Surgery and Medicine
Journal Biomedical Optics
Physics in Medicine and Biology
Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology
Lasers in Medical Science
Journal of Biophotonics
1) National Institutes of Health
2003 Ad-Hoc reviewer for BMIT Diagnostic Medical Imaging study section,
National Institutes of Health
2003 Ad-Hoc reviewer for Improvements in Imaging Methods and Technologies (ZRG1 SRB) study section, National Institutes of Health
2004 Ad-Hoc reviewer for BMIT Diagnostic Medical Imaging study section, National Institutes of Health
2005 Ad-Hoc reviewer for BMIT Diagnostic Medical Imaging study section, National Institutes of Health
2006 Mail reviewer, BMIT Diagnostic Medical Imaging study section, National Institutes of Health
2007 Ad-Hoc reviewer for Microscopic Imaging study section, National Institutes of Health
2008 Mail / Telephone reviewer for BMIT Diagnostic Medical Imaging study section, National Institutes of Health
2007 Member of Special Review Panel for P41 research resource, NIH-Biomedical Imaging, Technology Nov. 5-7
2008 Special Review Panel for P41 research resource, NIH-Biomedical Imaging, Sept 25, 2008
2) National Science Foundation
2008 Mail Review, National Science Foundation, Pan-American Advanced Studies Institutes Program (PASI)
^ (i.e. Faculty mentor, professional development endeavors)
1) Advancement of emerging optical technology and integration of bioengineering and imaging with biological and clinical fields through collaborative endeavors:
I have established a successful advanced optical imaging laboratory (Advanced Bio-Optics Imaging Laboratory) which has served as a resource for transferring of knowledge from biomedical engineering and optical imaging to established basic and clinical investigators. This effort has proven to be highly successful and fruitful in that it has impacted the research activity of individual investigators as well as collectively enhanced the knowledge-base of advanced imaging. The effort has included hands-on teaching of trainees in the areas of confocal microscopy, nonlinear optical microscopy, and optical coherence tomography (individually listed above under trainees section).
Through my research in biomedical engineering have assisted in the translation of basic studies into potential clinical applications. Three such examples include:
Vargas, Gracie (Galveston, TX); Barton; Jennifer K. (Tucson, AZ); Chan; Eric K. (Lexington, MA); Milner; Thomas E. (Austin, TX); Welch; Ashley J. (Austin, TX); United States Patent 6,942,663: Laser treatment of cutaneous vascular lesions, September 13, 2005.
6. Chan KF, Choi B, Vargas G, Hammer DX, Sorg B, Pfefer JT, Teichman JMH, Welch AJ, and Jansen ED, “Free electron laser ablation of urinary calculi: an experimental study,” IEEE Journal on Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, 2001; 7(6):1022-1033.
7. Vargas G, Chan KF, Thomsen SL, Welch AJ, “The use of osmotically active agents to alter the optical properties of tissue: effects on the fluorescence signal detected through skin,” Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, 2001; 29:213-220.
8.Telekov S, Vargas G, Nelson JS, Milner TE, Coherent thermal wave imaging of subsurface chromophores in biological materials, Physics in Medicine & Biology, 2002; 47:657-671.
9. Choi B, Kim J, Milner TE, Vargas G, Aguilar G, Rylander CG, Nelson JS, Use of optical coherence tomography to monitor biological tissue freezing during cryosurgery., Journal of Biomedical Optics, 2004; 9(2):282-6.
10.Vargas G, Readinger A, Dozier SS, Welch AJ, Morphological changes associated with increased visualization of subdermal blood vessels by tissue optical clearing – measured using Doppler optical coherence tomography, Photochemistry & Photobiology, 2003; 77(5): 541-549.
11. Kotov NA, Liu Y, Wang S, Cumming C, Eghtedari M, Vargas G, Motamedi M, Nichols J, Cortiella J, Inverted colloidal crystals as three-dimensional cell scaffolds, Langmuir, 2004; 20(19):7887-7892.
12. Sun J, Shilagard T, Bell B, Motamedi M, Vargas G, In vivo multimodal nonlinear optical imaging of mucosal tissue, Optics Express, 2004; 12(11):2478-86; http://www.opticsexpress.org/abstract.cfm?URI=OPEX-12-11-2478.
13. Youn JI, Vargas G, Wong BF, Milner TE, Depth-resolved phase retardation measurements for laser-assisted non-ablative cartilage reshaping, Physics in Medicine & Biology, 2005; 50:1937-1950.
14. Liu Y, Wang S, Krouse J, Kotov NA, Eghtedari M, Vargas G, Motamedi M, Rapid aqueous photo-polymerization route to polymer and polymer-composite hydrogel 3D inverted colloidal crystal scaffolds, J Biomaterials Res:A, 2007 Mar. 2.
15. Gong B., Sun J., Vargas G, Xu Y,Chang Q, Srivastava D,Boor PJ, Nonlinear Imaging Study of Extracellular Matrix in Chemical-induced, Developmental Dissecting Aortic Aneurysm: Evidence for Defective Collagen Type III, Birth Defects Research Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology, 2008; 82(1); 16-24.
16. Vargas G., Barton JK, Welch AJ, Use of hyperosmotic chemical agent to improve the laser treatment of cutaneous vascular lesions, Journal of Biomedical Optics, 2008; 13(2):021114.
17. Vincent K, Bourne N, Bell BA, Vargas G, Tan A, Cowan D, Stanberry L, Rosenthal SL, Motamedi M, High resolution imaging of epithelial injury in the sheep cervicovaginal tract, Sexually Transmitted Diseases 2009; 36(12):1-7.
18. Ioannou Y, Romay-Penabad Z, Pericleous C, Giles I, Papalardo E, Vargas G, Shilagard T, Latchman DS, Isenberg DA, Rahman A, Pierangeli S. In vivo inhibition of antiphospholipid antibody-induced vascular thrombosis through the use of the antigenic target peptide domain I of ß2-glycoprotein I. Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis 2009 May;7(5):833-42
19. Vargas G., Tuya Shilagard, Rebecca Johnston, Brent Bell, Rachael Stegal, Kathleen Vincent, Lawrence Stanberry, Massoud Motamedi, Nigel Bourne, High resolution confocal imaging of vaginal epithelial microstructure as a means of detecting microbicide toxicity , Journal Infectious Diseases 2009; 199(10):1546-52.
20. Zaman RT, Parthasarathy AB, Chen B, Vargas G, Dunn AK, Rylander HG, Welch AJ, Perfusion in Skin Treated with Glycerol, Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, 2009 Sep;41(7):492-503
21. Pennock JW, Stegall R, Bell B, Vargas G, Milligan G, Bourne N, Estradiol improves genital herpes vaccine efficacy in mice, Vaccine. 2009 Aug 3. [Epub ahead of print]
22. Liang Y, Shilagard T, Lau D, Xiao SY, Snyder N, Cicalese L, Vargas G, Lemon S, Visualizing hepatitis C virus infections in human liver by two-photon microscopy, Gastroenterology 2009 Oct 1 [Epub ahead of print].
Vargas, Gracie, Reduction of Light Scattering in Biological Tissue: Implications for Optical Diagnostics and Therapeutics, UT-Austin Department of Biomedical Engineering, 2001. Awarded University of Texas at Austin Outstanding Dissertation Award, 2nd place
Proceedings and Symposia
PUBLICATIONS - SUBMITTED:
PAPERS AND CONTINUING EDUCATION PROGRAMS PRESENTED:
INVITED LECTURES AT SYMPOSIA AND CONFERENCES:
Invited talk: Optical Imaging, Microscopy, and Infrared Imaging Session at the 31st Annual International Conference on IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, Sept 2009
INVITED LECTURES - OFF CAMPUS:
2002 Invited seminar: “Tissue Optical Clearing for Improved Blood Vessel Coagulation,” Beckman Laser Institute / Laser Microbeam and Medical Program (LAMMP) Lecture, University of California, Irvine, June 2002.
2002 Invited seminar: “Tissue Optical Clearing,” Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, November 11, 2002.
2003 Invited lecture, “Techniques for Deep Optical Imaging,” Department of Biomedical Engineering Seminar Series, Texas A&M University, December 1, 2003
Approved by COD: 7/06