The SPIE-Franz Hillenkamp Postdoctoral Fellowship in Problem-Driven Biomedical Optics and Analytics provides an annual award of US $75,000 to translate new biomedical optics and biophotonics technologies to clinical practice for improving human health.
The 2024 application closed 1 September 2023. Read more about this year's recipient below.
The fellowship honors Franz Hillenkamp's distinguished career as a researcher, teacher, and mentor who had an enormous international impact. A German scientist, he introduced the first medical laser applications laboratory and marked the genesis of translational research in biomedical optics in Europe in the 1970s.
Established in 2017, the fellowship is a partnership between the Hillenkamp family, SPIE, and multiple international biomedical laboratories.
Young investigators with a PhD, MD, or equivalent degree are eligible to apply. There are no restrictions on geographical location; however, applicants and hosting labs must propose original research in biomedical optics that is expected to lead to new diagnostics and/or therapeutics in medicine and biology.
The application for the SPIE-Franz Hillenkamp Postdoctoral Fellowship comprises three distinct elements, each with their own requirements: Hosting Lab, Project, and Candidate.
To be eligible as a Hosting Lab, the following requirements must be met:
Options for new Hosting Lab:
Sustaining Lab — a contribution of at least $20,000 must be made to support the Fellowship Fund. Sustaining Lab will be recognized from the time the contribution is processed (by SPIE) on spie.org and promotional materials as appropriate.
Participating Lab — no initial contribution is required and the lab will support a Fellow as the hosting lab in accordance with the above criteria. Participating Lab will be recognized on spie.org and promotional materials as appropriate for the year the lab is supporting an awarded Fellow.
The project must meet the following criteria:
Must include a detailed research plan developed jointly by the candidate and the research faculty mentor in science/engineering and/or medicine/biology. Research plan must be a minimum of three (3) pages and must not exceed five (5) pages.
Translational Sciences Component
Must include one (1) page training plan developed with the translational sciences mentor. The plan should NOT describe the project business plan, but how the fellow will be involved and learn about specific steps to be taken in order to translate new discoveries emerging from the project into new diagnostics or treatments for patients in need. May include actions such as: participating in courses and/or attending seminars and series focusing on translational research, working with clinicians, interacting with academic and/or commercial partners, participating in the writing and approval of animal experiments and/or human studies, applying for/or participating in translational research grants, and publishing a paper reporting on the work performed during the one-year SPIE-Franz Hillenkamp Fellowship, highlighting both the research and translational sciences components.
Candidates must include the following:
Simon Mahler's postdoctoral research — conducted in conjunction with Changhuei Yang at Caltech’s Biophotonics Lab — will focus on designing a multi-channel device, using infrared laser speckle imaging, that non-invasively monitors cerebral blood flow in the human head across several locations simultaneously. Leveraging this technology could potentially advance certain medical applications, including the diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries such as concussions. Read the full press release about Mahler's work and the 2024 fellowship.
Arutyun Bagramyan focuses his postdoctoral research — conducted in conjunction with Principal Investigator Charles Lin at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine — on the development of a miniature oblique back-illumination microscope for real-time, non-invasive imaging of white blood cells in human microvasculature. Read the full press release.
2022 Recipient Ivan Kosik
Ivan Kosik's research, conducted with Professor Brian Wilson at the University of Toronto, develops a new form of transrectal photoacoustic tomography (TR-PAT) in combination with thermal enhancement using multifunctional porphyrin-lipid nanoparticles. The goal is to create a safe, effective photothermal therapy (PPT) treatment platform that eliminates the necessity for intraoperative MRI. Read the press release.
2021 Recipient Nitesh Katta
Nitesh Katta, who received his PhD in 2019 from the University of Texas at Austin, continues research on his project, "a cold laser wire (CLW) for true-lumen crossing of tortuous coronary arteries with calcified chronic total occlusions (CTOs)." Read the press release.
2020 Recipient Fernando Zvietcovich
Fernando Zvietcovich, a PhD candidate at the University of Rochester, works on translating a novel biophotonics-based optical coherence elastography (OCE) method, developed and designed for the non-invasive quantification of corneal spatial biomechanical properties in 3D, into the in vivo clinical use for human ocular disease diagnostics and treatment monitoring. Read the press release.
2019 Recipients Jie Hui and Andreas Wartak
Dr. Jie Hui, of the Boston University Photonics Center, conducts research focused on a light-based approach to treat MRSA-caused diseases. Dr. Andreas Wartak of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine targets an earlier, cheaper, and less invasive diagnosis of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). Read the press release.
2018 Recipients Haley Marks and Jan Philip Kolb
Dr. Haley Marks of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital received the inaugural fellowship is an SPIE Member and postdoctoral researcher at the Wellman Center. She was recognized for her work on a luminescent oxygen-sensing, drug-releasing bandage that provides quantitative visual feedback for clinical treatment guidance. Read the press release.
On behalf of the Hillenkamp Fellowship Committee and Thorlabs, SPIE presented a second sponsored award to Jan Philip Kolb of the Medical Laser Center Lübeck (Germany)for his work on fiber-based nanosecond two-photon microscopy (nsTPM) which can be translated to clinical applications, such as pathology and endoscopy. The project investigates new wavelengths and compares the results with conventional haemotoxylin and eosin (H&E) stained microscopy.
The fellowship program is founded by SPIE and the family and friends of Franz Hillenkamp, as well as four Founding Labs: the Wellman Center for Photomedicine and the Manstein Lab in the Cutaneous Biology Research Center, both at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston (USA), The Beckman Laser Institute (USA), and the Medical Laser Center Lübeck (Germany).
Labs and organizations may further support the fellowship through partnership or industry sponsorship. Learn more.
Rox Anderson (Chair)
Gabriela Apiou (Co-Chair)
The Fellowship Review Committee
Christoph Hitzenberger (Chair)