Bresler and Singer honored at Champaign County Innovation Celebration
Gabrielle Irvin, ECE ILLINOIS
- Yoram Bresler was awarded the Innovation Transfer Award by the UI Office of Technology Management. He was cited for his work as the founder of InstaRecon, Inc. and was recognized for his research on image formation methods in computerized tomography (CT) scanners.
- Andrew Singer, director of the UI Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC), was awarded the Entrepreneur Advocacy Award, an award that recognizes those individuals or organizations in the community who have actively engaged, encouraged, coached, and mentored entrepreneurs in the community.
- ECE professors John Dallesasse and Jean-Pierre Leburton were also nominated for Innovation Celebration awards. Dallesasse was nominated for the Innovation Transfer Award and Leburton was nominated for the Innovation Discovery Award.
ECE professors Yoram Bresler and Andrew Singer were awarded at the Eighth Annual Champaign County Innovation Celebration in recognition of their innovative ideas and leadership for entrepreneurial endeavor and economic development in the community.
Bresler and Singer are among 10 individuals and companies who were given awards. Bresler was awarded the Innovation Transfer Award, an award that recognizes an individual or group from the university whose invention or work has been successfully transferred into the public sphere, by the UI Office of Technology Management. He was cited for his work as the founder of InstaRecon, Inc., a company based in the University of Illinois Research Park that develops and markets technology and services to imaging scanner equipment makers, and was recognized for his research on image formation methods in computerized tomography (CT) scanners.
In order to accelerate the process of transforming data acquired by the CT scanner into an image – the key to medical and other applications of CT – Bresler and his colleagues and students designed a new mathematical algorithm to form CT images at an accelerated rate. InstaRecon, Inc. is developing and commercializing a suite of patented and patent-pending algorithms, which reconstruct images from 2D and 3D tomographic data 20 to 100 times faster than conventional methods for typical image sizes. The commercial software product for micro CT scanners and manufacturing can reduce the waiting period for the results of one scan from two months to twelve hours, without requiring more hardware.
Bresler and his team at InstaRecon, Inc., are currently working on a new application targeting the medical CT market – X-ray dose reduction.
“The use of CT has skyrocketed,” Bresler said. “CT is the workhorse of diagnostic radiology and has contributed to a huge improvement in healthcare, but it turns out that because of this increased use, there is also an increased exposure of the population at large to X-ray CT, and that is known to cause cancer and other problems.”
There is now a great concern to reduce the X-ray dose, and Bresler and his team at InstaRecon, Inc., are working to use mathematical computation to acquire less data with less X-ray, and yet produce high-quality images via iterative algorithms.
“What these algorithms do is iterate,” Bresler said. “They create an image then check it, proof it, and recreate it repeatedly, creating the image and refining it from that low-dose data. The image created has the same quality, but uses a lower X-ray dose. To enable routine use of such algorithms in clinical practice, they must be accelerated many fold. This is where our technology and InstaRecon provide unique value.”
InstaRecon, Inc. recently received an NIH (National Institutes of Health) grant to fund the research, and Bresler and his colleagues are currently working with radiologists at Carle Foundation Hospital to examine and assess the image quality of the low-dose scans.
“I’m very honored, excited, and humbled to be selected to join the list of previous awardees,” Bresler said. “The people who have received this award really made big contributions and transferred significant technologies to the marketplace.”
Singer, director of the Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC), was awarded the Entrepreneur Advocacy Award, an award that recognizes those individuals or organizations in the community who have actively engaged, encouraged, coached, and mentored entrepreneurs in the community.
TEC provides students and faculty with the skills, resources and experiences necessary to become successful innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders who tackle grand challenges and change the world.
“TEC at the College of Engineering has an abundance of programs – both courses for students on campus and online – related to technology entrepreneurship,” Singer said. TEC also offers programs that help students to understand the commercialization process, understand how to formulate ideas around products, understand how to formulate possible solutions to market needs, and then use the information to come up with a workable business model. I have a great staff that works tirelessly to provide these programs, and I think this is just recognition of the role that TEC has had in helping out student entrepreneurs in our community.”
Currently, TEC is focusing on the idea of the “Stay in School Startup” to encourage students to stay in school, and is advocating Illinois as the destination for students who want to build on their dreams, have an impact, and solve challenges. A number of companies in California and on the East Coast attempt to encourage students to question the value of an undergraduate degree, Singer said.
“The worst thing to tell a student is to abandon their quest for knowledge and educational aspirations, and just go try and make a quick dollar,” Singer said. “We really embrace this 'Stay in School Startup' model, and that’s driven a lot of our courses and programs. We want students to look at engineering and entrepreneurship as a way to drive their career aspirations, as well as meet their needs to feel connected and have an impact in the world.”
TEC plans to launch a Grand Challenges Scholars Program to enable students to create a specialized curriculum to cater to the grand challenge that they would like to solve. TEC also offers an introductory entrepreneurship course, and helps student entrepreneurs write grant proposals to the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help students build on their ideas and have access to an abundance of resources.
“It’s great to have the recognition and spotlight of not just the university, but the community,” Singer said. “Seeing the community recognize what we do is important not only for our students, but also for community and economic development. The fun part is getting to work with the students and staff, and going out and making a difference.”
ECE professors John Michael Dallesasse and Jean-Pierre Leburton were also nominated for Innovation Celebration awards. Dallesasse was nominated for the Innovation Transfer Award and Leburton was nominated for the Innovation Discovery Award.