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Tomasz S. Tkaczyk

Tomasz TkaczykAssociate Professor in Bioengineering
Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering

Modern Optical Instrumentation and Bio-imaging Laboratory

Postdoctoral Fellow, Applied Optics, The University of Arizona, Tucson  (2002 – 2003)
Postdoctoral Fellow, Biomedical Imaging, The University of Arizona, Tucson (2001 – 2002)
Ph.D. Optical Engineering and Physical Optics, Optical Engineering Div. of the Institute of Micromechanics & Photonics, Warsaw University of Technology, Warsaw, Poland (2000)
MS. Eng. Optical Engineering, Department of Mechatronics, Warsaw University of Technology, Warsaw, Poland (1994)

Bio Sketch

Tomasz Tkaczyk specializes in the development of modern optical instruments that combine advanced technologies in optics, opto-mechanics, electronics, and materials to engineer novel imaging instruments, multi-dimensional snapshot imaging modalities, and systems for the early detection and treatment of diseases.

Tkaczyk's basic, applied, and translational research is leading to the development of new imaging technologies that are compact, robust, portable, inexpensive, and adaptable to mass production. The compact size of his high-performance imaging systems makes them ideal for point-of-care diagnostics in various clinical settings around the world. Biomedical applications have included in-vivo molecular imaging of precancer and cancer; multiplexed cell signaling analysis; and imaging systems to guide therapy and aid in surgical resection of the oral cavity, esophagus, and lung, and in the early screening and treatment of macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and tuberculosis. 

Tkaczyk is the principal investigator on an NIH R01 research project to build and test an advanced dual-functioning medical instrument called the Bi-FOV Endoscope. The five-year investigator-initiated project involves several institutions and three subcontractors for the development of an integrated optical needle that works with contrast agents to provide real-time cancer detection. The endoscope is part of another ongoing project in which Tkaczyk serves as a co-principal investigator in the fabrication and testing of optical and mechanical technologies, such as miniaturized optics, micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) components, and low-cost/high performance and modern-fabrication technologies. The joint efforts with collaborators at Rice University and the University of Arizona have enabled new platform technologies or methods not possible five or even ten years ago, and are currently in clinical trials.

Through the support of an NIH R21 grant, Tkaczyk developed an imaging technique called Image Mapping Spectrometry (IMS) that uses a specialized compact camera and couples with any high-resolution microscope, endoscope, or camera system to see a biological sample’s chemical and physical composition. The technology has the potential of becoming a fundamental research tool for microscopy and has many medical and life-science applications. A patent application for the IMS was submitted, and the Optical Society of America featured the IMS in its “2010 Papers of the Year.”

A new collaborative research focus in the Tkaczyk laboratory, which is supported by a $2 million grant by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, involves the development of a small, sophisticated snapshot spectrometer to analyze Earth’s atmospheric and surface conditions from algae blooms and other contaminants in coastal waters.

Tkaczyk is the author of more than 60 peer-reviewed publications and two book chapters. He serves as editor and reviewer for several scientific journals, and is the author of The Field Guide to Microscopy, which was in the top five best-selling books by SPIE in 2010.

Tkaczyk has been elected fellow of the Optical Society, or OSA, (2017), and a fellow of SPIE (2015), the international society for optics and photonics. Awards he has received for his achievements in optical engineering include:  the Rice University Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering’s Medical Innovations Award (2008, 2014), a Global Health Technologies award (2008) to develop high-throughput microscopy platform technologies that analyze several thousand cells in real time for the detection of tuberculosis, a John S. Dunn Research Foundation award to adapt the endoscopic technologies and build a high-resolution endoscope that images the intricate workings of the inner ear in vivo (2009), a Becton-Dickinson Professional Achievement Award by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (2010), a Paul F. Forman Engineering Excellence Award by the Optical Society (2011), and both the Norman Edmund Optics Higher Education Award and the Norman Edmund Inspiration Award (2012).

Research Statement

Research in Tkaczyk’s Modern Optical Instrumentation and Bio-imaging Laboratory focuses on the development and application of novel imaging instruments and systems. The compact size and high-performance capabilities of the bio-imaging tools developed in his lab have tremendous potential for point-of-care diagnostics in various clinical settings around the world.

To effectively advance his engineering research, Tkaczyk’s group combines the newest technologies in:

  • Optics (grayscale lithography, laser printing, free form diamond turning, molding, etc
  • Opto-mechanics (LIGA, DRIE components);
  • Electronics (custom detectors);
  • Software (dedicated DSPs, new algorithms); and
  • Bio-chemical materials (solgel, gold nanoparticles, quantum dots). 

Micro-optics research in bioengineering is a challenging task that requires a constant awareness of emerging technologies. Through collaborations with researchers in academic and industrial settings, Tkaczyk’s efforts are leading to the design and testing of optical and mechanical technologies in:

  • High-performance imaging micro-endoscopes that work with contrast agents and provide real-time cancer detection;
  • Modern and inexpensive technologies that enable high performance and are adaptable to mass production; and
  • High-throughput techniques like super-resolution or hyper-spectral imaging capabilities for optical screening devices that increase sensitivity and specificity for the detection of disease.