Sarah Erickson

Sarah Erickson Awarded the American Cancer Society’s Post-Doctoral Fellowship

Sarah Erickson, a graduating PhD student from the Dept of Biomedical Engineering has received a Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the American Cancer Society (ACS) in collaboration with the Canary Foundation (that supports early detection of cancer research).  Her grant proposal received an “Outstanding” score, and is one of the very few funded proposals by the Canary Foundation and ACS.

Sarah performed her doctoral research in the Optical Imaging Laboratory under Dr. Anuradha Godavarty’s guidance.  The Optical Imaging Laboratory, established since 2005, focuses on the varied applications of developing and applying optical imaging technologies towards breast cancer diagnosis/prognosis, functional brain mapping, and muscle oxygenation studies.  Sarah’s doctoral research was focused on the clinical translation of a novel hand-held optical imager for breast cancer diagnostics.  In particular her dissertation was focused in-vitro and in-vivo breast imaging studies using the hand-held imager, in an effort to translate the technology to the clinic.

Sarah received her bachelor of science in physics from the University of South Florida in Tampa and entered FIU in 2005 on a presidential fellowship.  In 2008, she was awarded a pre-doctoral fellowship from the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program.  During her doctoral research Sarah has received several national awards including the Session Best Paper Award (14th World Multi-Conference on Systems, Cybernetics and Informatics, 2010), the Lydia I. Pickup Scholarship (Society of Women Engineers, 2009), the 1st Place Doctoral Student Paper Award (Southern Biomedical Engineering Conference, 2009), and 3rd Place Best Student Poster Award (National Institutes of Health Workshop, Bethesda, MD, 2009).  Her graduate research has been published in 6 peer-reviewed journal publications and 9 conference proceedings as well as presented at 11 national conferences including SPIE Photonics West BiOS (2009, 2010), Optical Society of America BIOMED (2010), and Radiological Society of North America (2008).

As a post-doctoral researcher, Sarah will continue working with Dr. Godavarty towards improving the design of the hand-held imager into a more sleek and portable design and performing extensive clinical studies in collaboration with Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and a private practicing breast surgeon in Miami.  The overall goal is to translate the device to the clinic where it will provide an inexpensive and patient-comfortable method for functional imaging of breast tissue.  Eventually, the breast cancer research is targeted towards improving the survival rate of women affected by breast cancer (1 in 8 in the United States) by improving early-stage diagnosis of the disease and/or monitoring the therapeutic process, especially in younger or women with denser breast tissues.

Dr. Godavarty has been an incredible mentor throughout Sarah’s doctoral research process.  Her rigorous training in scientific and grant writing has led Sarah to achieve national recognition in publications and fellowships.  Dr. Godavarty has received recognition in awards such as the Coulter Early Career Award in Biomedical Engineering by the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation (2009), the Kauffman Professor Award from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (2009), FIU Top Scholars Recognition awarded by President Modesto A. Maidique for outstanding achievements in research and scholarship (2009), and she has been selected twice as a finalist for the Healthcare Heroes Award presented by the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce.