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Scholar of the Week

Guohua Cao

The Office of the Vice President for Research recognizes Guohua Cao, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, for his work to develop sophisticated imaging technology for biomedical and bioscientific discovery, diagnosis, and medical intervention.

Cao recently received a National Science Foundation CAREER grant valued at $400,000 to continue working on developing a five-dimensional micro-computer tomography scanner for the in vivo imaging of atherosclerotic plaques in transgenic mouse models. These blockages, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes, are not easily diagnosed due to a lack of noninvasive imaging techniques. Cao hopes to develop a carbon-nanotube field emission X-ray source to reduce the blurring of pictures that comes from the heart motions and to achieve the required time-based high resolution. His proposal calls for the integration of this specific type of X-ray with an energy-sensitive photon counting X-ray detector to develop his novel system.

Cao, who spent six years as a research assistant professor and a postdoctoral scholar and fellow at Brown University and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before joining the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, previously led a multidisciplinary team from the fields of physics, biomedical engineering, applied sciences, and radiology on the development of a carbon nanotube dynamic micro-computed tomography (CT) scanner.

This scanner is currently considered one of the world’s best in obtaining dynamic high spatial and temporal resolution CT images of small animals.  Cao has built two such state-of-art CT scanners for the biomedical researcher community.

Cao’s previous work on developing carbon nanotube x-ray technologies has been featured in the popular press, such as in Nature, The Economist, Technology Review, Discovery News, and German Public Radio.

Cao has established the X-Ray Systems Laboratory and acts as the director for the SBES Advanced Multi-scale CT (SAM-CT) Laboratory. The X-ray Systems Lab has two custom-built CT imaging systems that provide image resolution from 500 micrometers down to 50 nanometers, and sample size from 100 micrometers up to 100 millimeters, enabling biomedical discovery on a range of objects from a single cell to an adult rat. They represent the state-of-the-art in x-ray imaging capability at the university setting around the world.

Cao received his B.S. in chemical physics from the University of Science and Technology of China and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Brown University.


Nominate a Scholar of the Week

The goals of the Scholar of the Week are to recognize individuals while also telling people about research and scholarly activities at the university.

Recognition is based on research and/or scholarship.

Please nominate individuals — not teams, groups, or more than one person.

Please provide a sentence describing the research, scholarship, or creative work in non-technical, generally accessible language. A second sentence with an example or application is helpful.

  • Send nominations to: Beth Tranter, Chief of Staff, Office of the Vice President for Research.