BMEGG Member Brent Weyers Represents Marcu Lab at International HORAO Competition

Presentation results in increased global visibility, new partnership for lab’s biophotonics research

BMEGG member, Ph.D. student and Marcu Lab representative Brent Weyers placed third in the international HORAO crowdfunding campaign in Bern, Switzerland, raising global visibility for the lab’s groundbreaking biophotonics health-care research and gaining an important new research partner.

Taking place March 14, the crowdfunding campaign sought researchers to develop new technologies and methods to help neurosurgeons visualize the exact border between tumors and healthy brain tissue intraoperatively during surgery. Weyers’ presentation – “Intraoperative Detection of Brain Tumors Using ms-TRFS” – outlined the principle of using non-invasive lasers (multi-spectral time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy) to create nanosecond fluorescence in biological tissue, detecting cancer through very different fluorescence properties between normal and cancerous tissues.

Weyers’ presentation placed third in the crowdfunding-presentation competition -- which included 50 competitors from 20 different countries. His success in the competition caught the attention of HORAO neurosurgery representatives, who proposed a research partnership with the Marcu Lab.  

“The HORAO representatives are interested in duplicating our present clinical instrument that we currently use at the UC Davis Medical Center so they can collect data at their institution,” said Weyers. “We plan on co-applying for funding soon with their team so we can fund our neurosurgery studies abroad. Our collaboration offers excellent potential for us to rigorously expand our current working database and include tissue types and conditions which we have not previously explored. This is truly a unique collaboration, and because our clinical device is custom made, no one else in the world has a device like ours.”

Brent Weyers and Alba Alfonso-Garcia, along with other competition finalists, shared insights about their HORAO experience.

Weyers and Marcu Lab Postdoctoral Scholar Alba Alfonso-Garcia, who collected and analyzed data presented at the competition, were thrilled with the competition outcome, their new research partnership and the overall experience at HORAO.

"HORAO was wonderful," said Weyers. "I traveled to Switzerland, toured the Department of Neurosurgery at Inselspital - Bern University Hospital, visited operating rooms to learn how current intraoperative brain tumor procedures are performed, and met various members of the neurological surgery team. I also met leaders in the neurosurgery field from Carl Zeiss Meditec, the president of the Swiss society of Neurosurgery, and other leading industry partners and entrepreneurs. HORAO was a unique opportunity for me to demonstrate leadership in our lab, as well as to disseminate the innovative work we are performing here at UC Davis.”

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