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Prasad wins three national awards


Published September 25, 2017

headshot of Paras Prasad.

Paras Prasad

In the 1990s, UB researcher Paras Prasad became a pioneer in the field of light-based nanomedicine, which involves the use of tiny, light-activated particles to diagnose, monitor and treat disease.

Three decades later, he remains one of world’s most prominent thinkers in this area, and his work is being recognized by awards from three national or international scientific organizations.

The honors come from the American Chemical Society, IEEE (a worldwide technical professional organization for the advancement of technology) and the Optical Society. They recognize Prasad’s work in advancing the fields of optics, photonics and biophotonics, laying the foundation for new, light-based technologies in areas including cancer treatment, drug delivery and deep-tissue imaging.

At UB, Prasad serves as executive director of the Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics. He is a SUNY Distinguished Professor in the departments of Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Electrical Engineering.

The awards he is receiving are:

  • The 2018 American Chemical Society Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry, which recognizes outstanding research of a theoretical or experimental nature in the field of physical chemistry. Prasad was chosen for his pioneering contributions in the understanding of nonlinear optics and processes that involve multiple photons — or particles of light — within molecular, polymeric, nanoscale and biological materials. His groundbreaking research over four decades has broadly impacted the field of photonics, advancing our understanding of light-matter interactions in varied contexts.
  • The 2017 IEEE Nanotechnology Council Pioneer Award in Nanotechnology, which recognizes individuals who by virtue of initiating new areas of research, development or engineering have had a significant impact on nanotechnology. Prasad is being honored for creating multifunctional nanoprobes, applying nanophotonics in biomedical technology and educating future researchers. His work has included the design, production and assembly of nanoprobes for optical imaging, sensing, light-activated diagnostics and light-guided therapy.
  • The 2017 Michael S. Feld Biophotonics Award from the Optical Society. The scope of this award encompasses all areas of biophotonics, ranging from fundamental optics discoveries in biology to development of new theoretical frameworks and novel instrumentation to clinical translational research for biomedicine. Prasad is being recognized for his work on nonlinear and multiphoton processes in biophotonics, and for educating and promoting the field through his seminal monographs and reviews on the subject. His investigation of multiphoton processes catalyzed worldwide research in this area. Using these processes, he probed cellular interactions, advanced fundamental understanding of chemotherapy, investigated protein interactions and developed multiphoton processes that activate phototherapies.

“Professor Prasad’s receipt of these major awards is a testament not only to the impact of his work, but also to the broad range of disciplines, from biotechnology to nanoscience to photonics, in which he has made seminal contributions,” says David Watson, chair of UB’s chemistry department. “It is fitting also that the awards recognize Paras’ excellence as an educator and mentor, and his role in promoting science.”

A prolific inventor and researcher, Prasad has received numerous regional, national and international awards for his lifetime achievements.

At UB, Prasad has worked with colleagues to develop or study a wide range of new materials that could advance technology in health care and other fields, ultimately improving lives around the world.

These materials include miniature luminescent crystals that could be used in image-guided surgery, light-activated particles that could enable the development of new bioimaging technologies for disease detection, and onion-like nanoparticles whose specially designed layers could convert invisible near-infrared light to higher energy blue and ultraviolet light efficiently — an advancement that could improve the performance of technologies ranging from deep-tissue imaging to security inks used for printing money.

In addition to conducting research, Prasad has mentored numerous students and researchers in the fields of optics and photonics. Notably, he helped guide the work of a UB postdoctoral researcher who went on to found a UB spinoff company in France called Nanobiotix, which is now a publicly trading company worth more than 300 million Euros.