National Science Foundation Award will Advance Research on How Radio Waves Interact with Body

Riccardo Lattanzi

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that New York University Assistant Professor Riccardo Lattanzi is a recipient of the Faculty Early Career Development Award, more widely known as a CAREER Award. As part of the prestigious prize, Lattanzi will receive a total of $500,000 over the next five years to advance the fundamental understanding of how radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic (EM) fields interact with biological tissue and use that knowledge to improve the diagnostic power of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), among other goals.

Lattanzi aims to develop a new method for reliable, non-invasive cross-sectional mapping of the electrical properties of tissue, based on measurements obtained with MRI systems. The insight he expects to gain on the distribution of EM fields inside the human body could allow medical personnel to unleash the full potential of high-field MRI and enable MR images of heretofore inaccessible image quality.

Detailed electrical properties maps could also be employed as biomarkers for cancer and other pathologies, as well as improve the effectiveness of existing therapies such as radiofrequency (RF) ablation and electrochemotherapy—enabling doctors to precisely identify and attack malignancies with deadly accuracy.

Lattanzi’s work has industrial applications beyond the hospital radiology suite. Satisfying the safety regulatory requirements for wireless devices like cell phones, for example, currently depends on probe-based methods of EM field mapping, but Lattanzi predicts that the technique he and his colleagues are developing will make possible marked improvements in speed and accuracy over those relatively crude methods.

“We are delighted that Riccardo Lattanzi has joined the growing list of NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering faculty members who have won NSF CAREER Awards,” says Dean of Engineering Katepalli Sreenivasan. “The award reaffirms our conviction that he has embarked on research of the utmost importance and that he will be making great contributions to electrical engineering, public safety, medicine, and beyond.”

Lattanzi, who trained in biomedical engineering, is an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, as well as an assistant professor of radiology at the NYU School of Medicine. He is also affiliated with the Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, the Center for Advanced Imaging Innovation and Research (CAI2R), and NYU WIRELESS.

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a highly competitive activity that offers the NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.