Dhawan joins nearly 600 inventors from more than 190 research universities, government agencies and non-profit research institutions who, in the words of the Academy, “have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.”
“It was an incredible experience to be honored among so many world leaders in technology who have also made a meaningful impact on society,” Dhawan recounted, describing his cohort as “coming from every sector of the research community – from industry, non-profit foundations, academia and federal laboratories.”
“The clear message to all of us was the importance of growing support for science and technology,” he said.
Dhawan focuses on optical imaging devices. His patent on low-angle transillumination technology for examination of skin lesions has led to the formation of two start-up companies with Veinlite and DermLite products that are now being used, respectively, for treating spider vein diseases and the examination of skin lesions for diagnosis of skin cancers, specifically, malignant melanoma.
His research also includes a new method and instrumentation for in-situ measurements of concentrations of melanin, oxygenated hemoglobin, de-oxygenated hemoglobin and glucose in the blood through skin-tissue imaging. He is in the process of commercializing a wearable, painless glucose monitor.
In the health technology arena, Dhawan has worked assiduously to develop a community of stakeholders, including policymakers, entrepreneurs, clinicians, academics and insurers to discuss policy and practice around POC devices in order to speed the pace at which vital technologies reach doctors and patients.
He is currently helping lead a federal initiative backed by the National Institutes of Health to map out strategies for better integrating POC technologies such as heart monitors, cancer-testing kits and rehabilitation devices into the healthcare delivery system.
As part of this effort, he is chairing a diverse panel developing a plan of action for POCs that will be published sometime next year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine and distributed to all NIH institutes. It is expected to discuss ways in which patients, care providers and insurers can collaborate to develop these technologies and to optimize their use.
“By coming together we are more productive and efficient and can make an impact on health outcomes in a shorter amount of time,” Dhawan says. “It now takes well over a decade in many cases to deliver a promising technology into the hands of clinicians.”
Dhawan, who is vice provost for research, founded and directs NJIT’s Undergraduate Research and Innovation program, which provides guidance, as well as academic and corporate mentors to students conducting research and development on real-world topics such as smart information systems for social networking, biofuel energy and breakthrough methods to counteract the ravages of drug addiction.
“We wanted to create a platform for students that will allow them to try their hand at inventing and even commercializing innovative devices without the risk,” he says. “So many first-time start-ups fail because their founders are learning the process as they go.”
Dhawan is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) and Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) for his contributions in medical imaging and image analysis and healthcare innovations. He is the founding co-editor-in-chief of the IEEE Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine. His four issued patents also include cyber-security and secured data-communication systems inventions.