The Bhargava laboratory uses chemical imaging and designed structures to understand molecular composition and function in a range of problems. The activities in the group are divided broadly into three categories: theory, modeling, and simulations (fundamental science); instrumentation and analysis algorithms (applied engineering); and applications of the first two to a range of problems, notably in cancer pathology, polymeric systems, and food grain analysis (translational activities). From an analytical technique perspective, we are involved in many aspects of mid-infrared and Raman (including stimulated and surface enhanced) spectroscopy. We are particularly interested in microscopy and tomography using these optical spectroscopic techniques. In cancer pathology, we are interested in developing new imaging technology to use molecular changes in the tumor and its microenvironment for better diagnoses, using an integrated approach we term “systems pathology.” The development of systems pathology comes from both a bottoms-up approach in using 3D cell cultures, computer simulations, and engineered tumor models using 3D printing as well as a top-down approach using human clinical samples and tissue microarrays. The approach is applied to prostate, breast, and colon cancers.
Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the work, the laboratories are located in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, and Carle Foundation Hospital at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.