Fellow 2010-11

Rohit Bhargava


Bhargava imageWho Will Die of Prostate Cancer?

Of the 234,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United States every year, it is estimated that 80 percent would die from other causes if the prostate disease were left untreated. Unfortunately, we cannot accurately cull the at-risk patients from the others. As a result, we apply invasive treatments, often with significant side effects, to many people in order to save proportionally few lives.

Professor Bhargava has proposed a systems pathology approach to this problem. During his Center appointment, he will combine chemical and structural measurements with clinical and patient data to develop a picture of tumor growth and invasion. Central to his approach is a novel measurement technology based on mid-infrared vibrational spectroscopy. The resulting imaging modality is nondestructive and uses only light to measure chemistry, allowing his team to measure multiple cells and their chemical changes. They can also examine changes in space—a primary consideration for heterogeneous tissues—and track physiologic changes in tissue.

The project has three stages: first, to reduce the dimensionality of the problem, identify a subset of measurements as potentially useful; second, propose coupled differential equations to predict tumor growth-dependence for each cell type; and third, using insights gained from the mathematical models, identify key events in the progression of lethal cancer. Potential outcomes include new insight into the progression of tumors and meaningful clinical recommendations for the treatment of prostate cancer.