Joseph Chaiken, Ph.D., 2005 Annunzio Award

Written by on July 10, 2005 in 2005, Researcher, The Annunzio STEM Leadership Award

Joseph Chaiken, Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry
Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York

A ten year-old left in a dark room with a flashlight for a few minutes will usually press the light up against his or her hand or some other body part to behold the red glow. The red glow shows that of the colors comprising white light, only the red has extensive penetration through the tissues. The technology developed by Dr. Chaiken and his team for LighTouch Medical, uses CD player-type lasers that have been “kicked up a notch” to probe blood in capillaries in fingertips with very pure red light.

Significantly, they also showed how to obtain information from the blood part of the fingertip without interference from the other tissues, i.e. skin, bone, fat, etc. From the various colors of red light that emanate from the probed tissue, they discovered that it was possible and successfully demonstrated as one method to obtain quantitative information on glucose and a number of other important metabolites including, but not necessarily limited to, total protein, albumin, cholesterol, urea, triglycerides, and hemoglobin.

This technology will relieve millions of people with diabetes from the need to use fingersticks to monitor their glucose, and also will eventually allow all people to obtain a “non-invasive blood panel” comprised of a number of analytes simultaneously. Such analytes are routinely monitored on hospital check-in, doctors’ office visits, etc. millions of times each day in the United States alone. Each test requires the removal of 2-4 vials of blood from a patient. The risks, discomfort and costs associated with millions of blood draws each day will be avoided once and for all. The possible overall reduction of costs to the health care system will be in the billions of dollars per year.

It is impossible at this time to estimate what other discoveries regarding the anatomy and physiology of blood, circulation and other chemical aspects of human health may come from the newly discovered capability.

Dr. Chaiken graduated with Honors in Chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1977. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign earning his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry in 1982. He joined the faculty of the Chemistry Department of Syracuse University the same year.

The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation is honored to have had the assistance of the following distinguished individuals serving on the 2005 Frank Annunzio Awards Evaluation Committee:

Anthony Atala, M.D., William Boyce Professor and Director, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston Salem, North Carolina. Dr. Atala was the recipient of the 2000 $100,000 Christopher Columbus Foundation Award.
John A. Kleppe, Ph.D., P.E., Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Nevada,Reno.
M. Ian Phillips, Ph.D.,Vice President for Research and Professor at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida. Dr. Phillips was the recipient of the 2002 $50,000 Frank Annunzio Award in the Science/Technology field.
Fenella Saunders, Associate Editor, American Scientist.
Neill S. Smith, Ph.D., Senior Engineer, Vehicle Control Technologies, Reston, Virginia
James R. Fischer, Ph.D., P.E., Board of Directors, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Department of Energy, Washington, D.C.


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