New UH Engineering Professor Awarded $2 Million

Grant from Texas Agency Will Be Used for Advanced Cancer Imaging

David Mayerich will join the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering this fall.
Two breast biopsies imaged using standard clinical staining (left) and vibrational spectroscopy (right). David Mayerich's research focuses on identifying the chemical composition of a tissue sample using quantitative and non-destructive imaging methods, providing more reliable information to pathologists for diagnosis.

Cancer imaging expert David Mayerich will join the University of Houston’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering this fall.

Mayerich, who has been a Beckman Fellow at the University of Illinois since 2009, will help boost the department’s expertise in biomedical research, particularly in the fields of high-performance computing and biomedical imaging, said Badri Roysam, chairman of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

UH received a $2 million grant from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to help recruit Mayerich, who earned his Ph.D. in computer science from Texas A&M University. The award was one of several recruitment grants awarded by CPRIT, as part of the agency’s mandate to spur the recruitment of cancer researchers to Texas institutions.

Mayerich has also received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pathway to Independence Award to fund research into imaging and modeling microvascular networks, extremely complex structures that play a particularly prominent role in kidney cancer.

He said that his work is two-pronged, focusing on both improving diagnosis by developing new methods for imaging clinical tissue biopsies and developing methods to image tumors in 3-D at fine resolution and massive scale. His work will provide diagnosticians and researchers with insight into tissue structure and molecular composition.

While he currently works with breast cancer, Mayerich said that his research is applicable to many tumors and disease types. Ultimately, he said, his goal is to bring the power of high-performance imaging and modeling to biomedical researchers and clinicians, improving diagnosis and treatment.

“We need to provide biomedical researchers with the ability to collect and process terabyte-scale datasets on their own desktops,” he said.

Roysam said Mayerich’s research, including his work using quantum cascade lasers and knife-edge scanning microscopy (KESM) to map the 3-D architecture of tumors with subcellular resolution, will prove invaluable to cancer researchers in the Texas Medical Center and elsewhere in the state.

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, part of the Cullen College of Engineering at UH, is ranked 56th out of 126 programs in the National Research Council’s Ph.D. program rankings.