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BCRF Grantee Since


Area(s) of Focus

Stanislav Emelianov, PhD

Professor and Associate Chair for Research
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Endowed Faculty Fellow
Cockrell School of Engineering
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas

Current Research

In the last decade, combined ultrasound and photoacoustic (USPA) imaging – a synergistic and complementary combination of two ultrasound-based techniques--has been introduced and is now gaining wide acceptance in pre-clinical arena.. The overall goal of Dr. Emelianov’s BCRF-funded research is to translate USPA imaging to clinic practice by synthesizing targeted imaging contrast nanoagents and clinical USPA images.

Dr. Emelianov’s proposed studies will continue to focus on the development and testing of USPA imaging and dual-contrast agent – photo-acoustic nanodroplets (PAnDs), for detection of breast cancers at all stages and remote assessment of tumor phenotype. Within the next funding cycle, his studies will aim to demonstrate that USPA imaging, when coupled with targeted PAnDs, exhibit high sensitivity and, therefore, can detect and characterize molecular composition of tumors at a much earlier stage than current imaging modalities.

The expertise and experience of his multi-disciplinary team ensures the successful development and future clinical translation of a contrast-enhanced, molecularly specific USPA imaging capable of detection and phenotyping of breast tumors at clinically relevant depth. The outcome of the program will impact both fundamental cancer studies and clinical management of breast cancer.

Mid-Year Summary

Previously, Dr. Emelianov’s team demonstrated the potential of ultrasound-guided photoacoustic imaging using small laboratory models of cancer. Their current investigations are focused on two critical components of clinical translation of USPA imaging: design and development of a clinical breast cancer imaging system and synthesis and characterization of molecular-specific imaging contrast agent. Overall, they have made significant progress towards clinical translation of ultrasound-guided photoacoustic diagnostic imaging. Specifically, an USPA breast cancer imaging system was designed and is currently being built. Using this system, the researchers will conduct label-free imaging studies of breast cancer patients, imaging the primary tumor and lymph nodes to determine the stage of the disease and to identify possible micrometastases within lymph nodes. Furthermore, they optimized the synthesis of the imaging contrast agent for noninvasive imaging and determination of the tumor phenotype within the content of anatomical properties and functional characteristics of tissue. Such information will result in cancer diagnosis with high sensitivity and specificity. Furthermore, the same approach can be used to select and then monitor the most effective patient-specific systemic therapy option. The contrast agent, consisting of FDA approved materials, was tested for biocompatibility, cyto-toxicity and stability. The current results indicate that the developed contrast agent is non-toxic and stable for at least a week. Therefore, in-vivo studies are planned to further characterize the imaging contrast agent. Overall, these studies indicate that USPA imaging is a viable imaging technology for breast cancer staging, the selection of the best (personalized/adaptive) neoadjuvant systemic therapies, and treatment monitoring


Dr. Stanislav Emelianov is a Cockrell Family Professor and the Director of Ultrasound Imaging and Therapeutics Research Laboratory in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at University of Texas at Austin. Furthermore, Dr. Emelianov is co-Director of the University of Texas Center for Emerging Imaging Technologies focused on the translation of instrumentation and nanobiotechnology for clinical applications. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Imaging Physics at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Throughout his career, Dr. Emelianov has been devoted to the development of advanced imaging methods capable of detecting and diagnosing cancer and other pathologies, to assist treatment planning and enhance image-guided therapy and the monitoring of treatment outcomes. He is specifically interested in intelligent biomedical imaging and sensing ranging from molecular imaging to small animal imaging to clinical applications. Furthermore, Dr. Emelianov develops approaches for image-guided molecular therapy and therapeutic applications of ultrasound and electromagnetic energy. Finally, nanobiotechnology plays a critical role in his research. In the course of his work, Dr. Emelianov has pioneered several ultrasound-based imaging techniques including molecular photoacoustic imaging. Overall, projects in Dr. Emelianov's laboratory, which focuses on cancer and cardiovascular diseases, range from molecular imaging to functional imaging and tissue differentiation, from drug delivery and release to image-guided surgery and intervention.

Dr. Emelianov is a nationally recognized expert in biomedical imaging instrumentation and nanoagents for imaging and therapy. He is the author of over 300 publications including peer-reviewed research articles, invited reviews, book chapters, and conference proceedings. In recognition of his contributions to the field, Dr. Emelianov was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. He is also the Vice-President for Ultrasonics of the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control Society.