The Cancer Engineering program is a collaboration to design, develop and integrate innovative engineering technologies and data analytic approaches with cancer biology, biomechanics and fundamental science to enhance cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment and improve the lives of patients.

Active Research Collaborations

Electromagnetic Fields: Motility of Metastatic Breast Cancer Cells
Jonathan Song, PhD  Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Ramesh Ganju, PhD  College of Medicine, Department of Pathology

This study showed that low intensity electromagnetic fields hindered the mobility of specific breast cancer cells by preventing the formation of long, thin extensions at the edge of a migrating cancer cell. The research was done on cells in a lab, and the concept hasn’t yet been tested in animals or humans. The study was published in Communications Biology on August 8, 2019. The research team, which included engineers and cancer biologists, found that cancer cells appeared to sense both the presence of the electromagnetic fields and also the direction from which the fields were coming.

Handheld Diagnostic Device for Early Detection
Shaurya Prakash, PhD  Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Raphael Pollock, MD, PhD  The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center

This project between the teams of Dr. Pollock and Dr. Prakash is focused on developing new diagnostic technologies using innovative microfluidic and nanofluidic devices for cancer detection. Specifically, their handheld, chip-scale device aims to isolate, capture and purify extracellular vesicles for analysis of their molecular cargo. The molecular cargo within these vesicles can be a potent biomarker for cancer diagnostics and presents a new forefront in early detection of cancer and monitoring progress with treatments. As a first step, they have chosen to focus on sarcoma, a rare and difficult to treat type of cancer, but expect to expand the utility of the technology to other cancers.

Role of Blood Vessels in Brain Metastases
Jonathan Song, PhD – Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Gina Sizemore, PhD  College of Medicine, Radiation Oncology

Breast cancer metastasis to the brain is known to be a significant clinical problem and yet it is a surprisingly understudied issue. Mechanical engineering assistant professor Jonathan Song, along with radiation oncology assistant professor Gina Sizemore, will contribute to the topic’s knowledge base. The researchers earned a two-year, $200,000 Pelotonia-funded grant from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute to investigate the role of blood vessels in brain metastases. They aim for their fundamental work to inform future drug development. Their proposal, “Probing the Mechanisms of Vessel Co-Option and Resistance to Anti-Angiogenesis Therapy With Engineered Microvessels,” was submitted through the OSUCCC – James Spring 2019 Intramural Research Program.

Personalizing Spinal Cancer Treatment
William Marras, PhD; Dukagjin Blakaj, MD, PhD; Eric Bourekas, MD; Ehud Mendel, MD – Spine Research Institute

This collaborative multidisciplinary research is focused on developing optimal treatment strategies for cancer patients with metastatic disease to the spine. Recent advances in cancer treatments has led to the use of immunotherapy to treat metastatic cancer to the spine, but not all patients seem to benefit. Due to this, there is an increasing use of stereotactic radiotherapy within the setting of immunotherapy to improve patient outcomes. However, these combined therapies have been associated with risk of vertebral compression fractures (VCF), which pose a major challenge to patient care. It is therefore important to effectively identify patients at-risk of VCF and those who might benefit from prophylactic interventions. As part of this effort, the research team is leveraging the innovative use of biomechanical models to better understand the causal mechanisms that lead to vertebral instability and fractures. In addition, they are exploring potential use of these models to enhance clinical decision-making on patient selection and personalize treatments for cancer patients.

Cross-Disciplinary Postdoctoral Scholars Program

The Cross-Disciplinary Postdoctoral Scholars Program (CPSP) seeks to recognize outstanding young researchers at Ohio State and aid in the recruitment of highly qualified postdoctoral researchers who will become leaders in the research fields bridging medicine and engineering. It offers a unique training in applied and translational engineering for cancer imaging and therapy that is jointly funded and administered by the College of Engineering and The James. A highly competitive program, it will focus on training of postdoctoral researchers at the intersection of medicine and engineering to augment and support campus-wide teams of cancer researchers, clinicians and engineering experts.

Four CPSP fellowships will be awarded each year.

Research Seed Grants

The College of Engineering and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center will combine funding to provide seed grants to form new interdisciplinary teams or to advance research for federal and foundation proposal readiness.

Contact Us

Dorota Grejner-Brzezinska
Associate Dean for Research
College of Engineering


Matthew Ringel, MD
Ralph W. Kurtz Chair
Director, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
College of Medicine