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The "sky's the limit" for young Stanford structural biologist

Adam de la Zerda, PhD, likes to tell his students that the sky's the limit - something he most likely told himself many times over. At just 28 years old, he already has a pretty impressive laundry list of accomplishments: He's co-founder of a Silicon Valley startup, he was recently listed in Forbes magazine's "30 under 30" in science and health care, and he has garnered numerous other awards, including ones from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

A story in today's Inside Stanford Medicine profiles the young Stanford faculty member and a technology he developed called photoacoustic molecular imaging, which allows researchers to see cancerous tumors hiding under tissues. As writer Elizabeth Devitt explains, the imaging technique holds promise for cancer detection and other diseases:

The unique advantage of photoacoustic molecular imaging is that it allows scientists to see tumors hiding under other tissues and structures. It can also outline tumor boundaries during surgery, which helps surgeons see what to cut out and what to leave in — avoiding mistakes either way. "It's like having Superman vision," said de la Zerda.

"There may be a million different things we can do with this," he added. "We can study basic tumor biology. We can monitor the treatment of cancer patients. We can even apply this technique to diseases other than cancer."

Previously: Stanford structural biologist named one of Forbes Magazine's 30 under 30 rising stars
Photo by Norbert von der Groeben

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