Dr. Punit Prakash

Department: Electrical & Computer Engineering
Departmental Website

Feature story in 2021 Conquest magazine: "Waves over knives: Engineer develops energy-based alternative to tumor surgery"

While surgery and organ transplants offer the best chance to cure many solid tumors, a large proportion of cancer patients (up to 80% for liver and pancreatic cancers) are not surgical candidates. Minimally invasive alternatives are needed for curative and palliative treatment. We are developing energy-based devices, feedback control strategies, and treatment delivery techniques for image-guided thermal therapy of cancer.

Energy (radiofrequency currents, microwaves, ultrasound) is deposited into the target tissue, where it is absorbed and converted into heat. Intense heating for short durations may be used as a standalone therapy to destroy tumors (known as thermal ablation), while moderate heating for longer durations (hyperthermia) may be used to increase the efficacy of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. The goal is to maximize therapeutic heating of the tumor and prevent thermal damage to critical structures.

We employ computer models of energy propagation and heat transfer within tissue to optimize device designs for treatment of tumors in specific sites. Furthermore, we fabricate and evaluate prototype devices with experiments in appropriate tissue models. Finally, we are developing computer models to assist physicians in customizing treatments for patient-specific anatomies.