Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences welcomes new Birmingham Fellow

Dr James Guggenheim
Dr James Guggenheim

Dr James Guggenheim has been appointed as a Birmingham Fellow with the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences (ICVS), University of Birmingham, joining its long established world class research team

ICVS are delighted to welcome Dr Guggenheim whose research investigates biomedical optics, specifically the development of technology for photoacoustic imaging. Photoacoustic imaging is an emerging imaging technique that involves using pulsed light to generate ultrasound in biological tissues. The technique is non-invasive and particularly well-suited to imaging vascular networks. Dr Guggenheim tells us more about his background and expertise and why he was so keen to join Birmingham.

What’s your background?

My background is in computer science. I studied for an undergraduate and master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science at the University of Birmingham. I then joined Birmingham’s ’PSIBS’ doctoral training centre, and focussed on the Physical Science of Imaging in Biomedical Sciences. I obtained my PhD in the area of biomedical optics, working on developing a preclinical optical imaging system.

What are your biggest achievements to date?

My biggest achievement is developing a new class of highly sensitive ultrasound sensors based on optical microresonators. By providing orders-of-magnitude higher sensitivity than equivalently-sized traditional transducers, these devices promise to underpin new highly sensitive imaging systems. I published the first paper on these devices in Nature Photonics. In 2018, I was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship (URF), a prestigious 5-8 year fellowship funding early career scientists to become leaders in their field. My URF is on developing new techniques combining photoacoustic imaging, optical wavefront shaping and computational imaging. 

What attracted you to the University of Birmingham?

I know Birmingham extremely well from my PhD days and am particularly aware of the campus-wide interest and expertise in developing and applying biomedical imaging techniques. I was also attracted to join because ICVS offers an exciting combination of experts in the area of cardiovascular sciences who are open to engage with new technology. I believe this will provide opportunities for highly productive collaboration and learning.

What is your long term objective while at Birmingham?

My long term plan is to develop an internationally outstanding Photoacoustic Imaging Group at Birmingham. This group will develop new photoacoustic techniques with broader applicability by addressing the most pressing challenges in the field such as breaking limits on spatial resolution and imaging depth. With collaborators at Birmingham, UCL and globally, I hope the group will also explore new applications such as imaging atherosclerosis and angiogenesis, paving the way to improved understanding and monitoring of cardiovascular diseases and other conditions.

What do you think the future holds for your field of research and what would you like to see achieved in your lifetime?

In my lifetime, I hope photoacoustic imaging, and specifically techniques I develop, will be used routinely to benefit patients in hospitals and researchers in biomedical sciences. 

What’s your drive for getting up in the morning?

Right now it’s being woken up (rather early) by my 7 month old daughter, which is a pretty nice way to start the day. On a personal level, I am most excited to work towards finding out which new technology-based ideas have practical applications.

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