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Woon-Hong Yeo, Ph.D., receives BMES Career Development and Innovation Award

Richmond, VA (October 11, 2016)- Woon-Hong Yeo, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering, has been awarded the 2016 BMES Innovation and Career Development Award. He received the award at the Biomedical Engineering Society’s annual meeting in Minneapolis in October. Yeo was one of 11 recipients.

The award recognizes early career faculty from underrepresented populations in biomedical engineering for their accomplishments, significant contributions and service to the field. The awards are also intended to support participation from BMES members involved in research and training focused on health disparities and minority health.

Yeo’s lab at the VCU Massey Cancer Center focuses on prostate cancer detection in African American men, a group with higher prostate cancer incidence and mortality compared with white men. It is imperative that African American men be able to detect prostate cancer earlier because they currently present with more advanced disease and have a lower five-year survival rate than white men.

To facilitate early detection of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), Yeo is developing a novel biomedical device that addresses challenges associated with current methods for non-invasive diagnosis of prostate cancer, which are time-consuming, costly, and labor-intensive. Yeo’s bioelectronic system utilizes highly sensitive nanoscale needles for early-stage screening of prostate cancer. Using nanoscale needles and an electronic tool, the device under development offers sufficient electrical forces to attract and capture ctDNA from complex samples. The total analysis biomedical system, incorporating with needles and electrical measurement system, is expected to offer early-stage cancer screening for African-American men.

Yeo’s research focuses on enhancing human health through projects comprising aspects of nanomechanics, biomolecular interactions, soft materials, and nano-microfabrication for nanoparticle biosensing and unusual electronic system development, with an emphasis on bio-interfaced nanoengineering. Outputs include skin-like electronics for human health monitoring, human-machine interfaces via soft electronics, high-throughput fabrication of micro- and nano-structures and nano-biosensors for disease diagnostics.

His research group actively collaborates with physicians and clinicians at the VCU School of Medicine so that new devices they develop can be utilized for clinical study.