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Kamran Avanaki

Kamran Avanaki

Biomedical Engineering Faculty

Dr. Kamran Avanaki, Ph.D.


Kamran Avanaki is currently an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Department. His areas of expertise are design and development of photoacoustic imaging technology and optical coherence tomography for biomedical applications to solve critical problems in brain and skin imaging. As principal investigator, he has received multiple research grants/ fellowships including NIH R01 Bioengineering Research Grants (BRG), NIH R01 BRAIN Initiative: Proof of Concept Development of Early Stage Next Generation Human Brain Imaging, and Melanoma Research Alliance Grant. He has received several other awards including Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC), American Cancer Society Seed Award, The Tech Transfer Talent Network (T3N) Award, Michigan Children’s Hospital Foundation Award, Entrepreneurship and the Anderson Institute Award, Richard Barber Interdisciplinary Research Award, Albert and Goldye J. Nelson Award, and Dean’s Diversity Fellowship. He has mentored /co-mentored more than 30 graduate students and has been awarded the Outstanding Faculty Award three times (in 2016, 2017, and 2019) at Wayne State University. He also received the Research Excellence Award and Excellence in Teaching Award in 2019 from the Engineering School at Wayne State University.


OPIRA, the Optical & Photoacoustic Imaging Research and Analysis Laboratory, is a research laboratory dedicated to the development of novel biomedical imaging technologies based on three major methodologies: Photoacoustic imaging (PAI), Optical coherence tomography (OCT), and Image analysis and machine learning .

Photoacoustic imaging (PAI), also called optoacoustic imaging, is a three-dimensional (3-D) imaging modality that works based on the photoacoustic (PA) effect. The sample (light absorbent) to be imaged is optically excited, leading to a transient temperature rise, resulting in a thermoelastic expansion of the absorber followed by emission of acoustic waves. The emitted acoustic waves from the absorber are detected by ultrasound (US) transducers, which are then given to an image reconstruction algorithm to generate the absorption map of the tissue. PAI has been evaluated in preclinical and recently in clinical applications for disease detection and monitoring purposes. For instance, it has been used to study human skin abnormalities, brain disease detection, human breast tumor detection, retina disease diagnosis, and atherosclerosis evaluation of vessel walls.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an optical imaging modality that uses low-coherence light to produce high-resolution volumetric images of the microstructures in materials and biological samples in real-time. OCT images are cross-section morphology maps of the tissue. OCT was initially applied for imaging in the eye. Recently, OCT’s application in a wide range of medical specialties such as dermatology, gastroenterology, urology, gynecology, surgery, neurosurgery, developmental biology and rheumatology has been successfully demonstrated. OCT is of interest because it allows repeated imaging of the sample without any need for sample preparation.