Peter Santago II, PhD

Peter Santago II, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair, Biomedical Engineering; Associate Director, Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences

Dr. Peter Santago is the chair of the Biomedical Engineering Department, Director of the WFSM Center for Biomedical Engineering, and Associate Director of the Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences (SBES). He also directs the Imaging Informatics Core for the WFSM Center for Biomolecular Imaging, a resource that provides education, service, and research for the various medical imaging modalities and researchers. Dr. Santago helped found each of these, and has been instrumental in bringing engineering to the Medical Center, most recently and importantly through SBES.

A major contribution of these efforts is that these Biomedical Engineering (BME) initiatives have all been to build interdisciplinary research projects, and BME students are expected to select a project that build on the interface between engineering and biological systems. Dr. Santago was selected to receive the Graduate Student Association Faculty Excellence Award in 2001, the IEEE North Carolina Council Outstanding Engineer Award, and the IEEE Third Millennium Medal. Dr. Santago’s research can generally be categorized as image analysis and pattern recognition. As Associate Director for SBES, Dr. Santago is also responsible for facilitating collaborations between other researchers in the Colleges of Engineering and Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech and in the Medical School.

SYNOPSIS OF AREA OF INTEREST: Dr. Santago collaborates with researchers from basic science and clinical departments on projects that include drug discovery, colon cancer, and aging muscle characterization. His technical expertise includes signal analysis, pattern recognition, and medical imaging.

DETAILED AREA OF INTEREST: The research of Dr. Santago can generally be categorized as pattern recognition, image and signal processing, and machine learning. More recently he has emphasized the use of high-performance cluster computing on various applications of pattern analysis. In particular he has developed collaborations in computational drug discovery; tissue imaging and characterization with an emphasis on high-frequency ultrasound and fiber optic imaging; and CT colonography polyp detection and diagnosis. While these applications are quite different in many regards, by focusing pattern recognition technology on them, this diversity can bring new ways of thinking about each problem. An emphasis of Dr. Santago’s work is to allow the computer to work in partnership with the investigator, bringing the strengths of each to bear on the problem. For example, by using sophisticated, non-linear methods to determine optimal features or descriptors for drug discovery, the investigator may gain insights not obvious when taking a strictly human viewpoint.

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