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Distinguished professor to illustrate work of researchers to conquer cancer

Thursday, October 18, 2018

LAWRENCE —Researchers around the world are doing their part to fight the scourge of cancer, including some of the top minds at the University of Kansas.

University Foundation Distinguished Professor Steven SoperUniversity Foundation Distinguished Professor Steven Soper will present “The War Against Cancer: The Role of Engineers and Scientists” at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, in the Summerfield Room of the Adams Alumni Center. All are invited to attend the talk, which is Soper’s inaugural distinguished professor lecture. A reception will follow in the Paul Adams Lounge.

Soper joined KU in 2016 and holds joint appointments in the departments of Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering. He’s also part of KU’s Bioengineering Program and is a member of the KU Cancer Center at KU Medical Center. He conducts research in novel biomedical devices, concentrating on in vitro cancer diagnostics based on lab-on-a-chip technologies. Among his significant efforts in the fight against cancer, Soper has made both fundamental and translational contributions to the use of lab-on-a-chip devices for the analysis of liquid biopsy markers in cancer. Soper also has developed blood-based tests for colorectal, breast and pancreatic cancers, as well as multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia. He is now working with Children's Mercy Hospital for a blood-based test for acute lymphoblastic leukemia for pediatric patients.

Soper is a fellow of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received the 1992 R&D 100 Award, the 1994 Shannon Award from the National Institutes of Health, the 1995 Whitaker Foundation Award, ACS Award for Innovations in Chemical Instrumentations and numerous university-level recognitions for research.

Before joining KU as one of 12 University Foundation Distinguished Professors, he was at the University of North Carolina/North Carolina State University Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering and the UNC Department of Chemistry. His career also includes time on the faculty in the departments of Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering and Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University. Between 2009 and 2012, Soper held the title of World Class University Professor at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he was part of a group working on the human genome project.

Soper has 11 patents and is the founder of two companies, BioFluidica Inc. and Digital NanoGenetics LLC. BioFluidica is developing blood-based tests for a variety of cancer-related diseases. It currently has 35 full-time employees with offices in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Lawrence; and San Diego. Digital NanoGenetics is working to develop a revolutionary sequencing machine that will be deployed for human health monitoring, and surveying water and food supplies for suspected bacterial contamination. Founded in 2017, it recently received funding from NIH.

Soper also serves as director of the Center of BioModular Multi-scale Systems for Precision Medicine. Initially funded through a National Science Foundation grant, the center, now funded through NIH, is a highly interdisciplinary unit with a mission to improve human health by developing new tools to manage a variety of disease states. Partners include KU Medical Center, Cornell Medical College, UNC and LSU.

He is a prolific scholarly author with over 250 peer-reviewed publications and more than 13,500 citations. He has served on 31 review panels for the NIH, NSF, the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, and he is a permanent member of three different panels: Human Genome Review Panel, NANO Review Panel and Integrated Systems Development Review Panel. 

Soper earned a doctorate in bioanalytical chemistry from KU. He also has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, both from the University of Nebraska, Omaha.