January 29, 2020

Narasimhan Rajaram, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Research Interest Statement

My lab is interested in studying the relationship between tumor oxygenation and metabolism and the role that this relationship plays in promoting cancer progression, metastasis and treatment resistance. To study this relationship, we develop clinically translational quantitative optical imaging technologies that can not only enable basic science discovery in the lab but also translate these discoveries to measurable optical biomarkers in the clinic to significantly impact cancer treatment.

Over the last five years, our lab has been at the forefront of using optical techniques to elucidate the functional and molecular changes associated with treatment resistance. In collaboration with Dr. Ruud Dings and Dr. Robert Griffin in the UAMS Department of Radiation Oncology, we have used two-photon excited fluorescence microscopy to identify unique oxygen consumption and metabolic profiles of radiation-resistant lung cancer cells compared with radiation-sensitive cells. Using diffuse optical spectroscopy, we have found significant differences in tumor oxygenation after radiation between radiation-sensitive and resistant tumors as well as elevated expression of biomolecular signatures corresponding to lipids and collagen in the post-radiation tumor microenvironment.

We are currently working with Dr. Mauricio Moreno and Dr. Emre Vural in the UAMS Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery to test our clinically translational optical spectrometer in head and neck cancer patients. We are excited to see how our technology can monitor treatment response in patients and believe that such technologies can significantly impact cancer care.

Dr. Rajaram’s Cancer-related Funding

NIH/NCI: 1R01CA238025-01A1

Narasimhan Rajaram: PI

Title: Determination of functional and molecular biomarkers of treatment resistance with multimodal optical spectroscopy

08/13/19 – 07/31/24



NSF/CBET: 1847347

Narasimhan Rajaram: PI


Title: CAREER: A multimodal imaging platform to investigate spatiotemporal changes in tumor bioenergetics that drive treatment resistance



DoD Lung Cancer Research Program: W81XWH-19-1-0762

Narasimhan Rajaram: PI

09/01/19 – 08/31/24

Title: Identifying metabolic hallmarks of cancer initiation in lung tumor-adjacent normal tissue


*Annual cancer-related direct costs

Dr. Rajaram’s UAMS Collaborators

UAMS College of Medicine

Ruud P.M. Dings, Ph.D., Department of Radiation Oncology
Robert J. Griffin, Ph.D., Department of Radiation Oncology
Mauricio Moreno, M.D., Department of Head and Neck Otolaryngology
Emre Vural, M.D., Department of Head and Neck Otolaryngology
Alan J. Tackett, Ph.D., Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Eric Siegel, M.S., Department of Biostatistics

Dr. Rajaram’s External Collaborators

University of Arkansas

Kyle P. Quinn, Ph.D.
Timothy J. Muldoon, Ph.D.
Magda O. El-Shenawee, Ph.D.

Opportunities for Collaboration

I am always looking for people to work with to translate our optical spectroscopy methods to the clinic. Our pen-shaped optical probe can provide quantitative, frequent and noninvasive measurements of tissue status in animals and patients. In addition, I am also interested in working with people to study cellular metabolism using nondestructive and high resolution two-photon microscopy in cells and animals.

You May Not Know That …

I loved history when I was a kid and still do. I always wanted to become an archaeologist (sometimes I wish I was when I see my grant score). Now I am a biomedical engineer. Oh well…

Recent Cancer-related Publications

1. Dadgar S, Rajaram N. Optical imaging approaches to investigating radiation resistance. Frontiers in Oncology, Special Section on Radiation Oncology, 9 (1152), 2019. (invited review)

2. Paidi SK,* Diaz PM,* Dadgar S,* Jenkins SV, Quick CM, Griffin RJ, Dings RPM, Rajaram N,† and Barman I.† Label-free Raman spectroscopy reveals signatures of radiation resistance in the tumor microenvironment. Cancer Research 79 (8): 2054-2064, 2019. (* equal first author; † corresponding authors)

3. Diaz PM, Jenkins SV, Alhallak K, Semeniak D, Griffin RJ, Dings RPM, and Rajaram N. Quantitative diffuse reflectance spectroscopy of short-term changes in tumor oxygenation after radiation in a matched model of radiation resistance. Biomedical Optics Express 9(8): 3794-3804, 2018. PubMed PMID: 30338156.

4. Lee DE, Alhallak K, Jenkins SV, Vargas I, Greene NP, Quinn KP, Griffin RJ, Dings PM*, and Rajaram N*. A radiosensitizing inhibitor of HIF-1 alters the optical redox state of human lung cancer cells in vitro. Scientific Reports 8(1): 8815, 2018. PubMed PMID: 29891977.

5. Dadgar S, Troncoso JR, and Rajaram N. Optical spectroscopic sensing of tumor hypoxia. J Biomed Opt 23(6): 067001, 2018. PubMed PMID: 29873205.

6. Vargas I, Alhallak K, Kolenc O, Jenkins SV, Griffin RJ, Dings PM, Rajaram N, Quinn KP. Rapid quantification of mitochondrial fractal dimension in individual cells. Biomedical Optics Express, 9(11): 5269-5279, 2018.