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Vadim Backman: Faculty Experts

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Vadim Backman

McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Sachs Family Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Medicine, McCormick School of Engineering
Professor of Medicine (Hematology/Oncology), Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Feinberg School of Medicine
Associate Director for Engineering and Technology, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center
Director, Center for Physical Genomics and Engineering


Areas of Focus

  • Cancer
  • Genomics
  • Epigenetics
  • Biophysics
  • Microscopy
  • Imaging
  • Entrepreneurship


Backman’s research at the convergence of physical and biological sciences focuses on elucidating the function of the human genome and its dysregulation in disease.

Enabled by the development of new nanoscale imaging and computational genomics technologies, his discoveries lead to novel methods for the quantification and regulation of global patterns of gene expression and their clinical translation for disease diagnostics and therapeutics.

His research spans from basic science to technology development to multi-center clinical trials, with a specific focus on:

  • Genome structure and function
  • Chromatin biology
  • Cancer diagnostics and therapeutics
  • Super-resolution imaging and nanosensing
  • Molecular modeling


Backman received his Ph.D. in medical engineering and medical physics from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has received numerous awards including the Cozzarelli Prize from the National Academy of Sciences and was selected as one of the top 100 young innovators in the world by MIT Technology Review Magazine.

He has chaired multiple scientific conferences such as OSA Biomed and SPIE Biomedical Applications of Light Scattering, and published more than 240 papers in peer-reviewed journals including Nature, Nature Medicine, Science Advances, PNAS and Physical Review Letters, and he holds more than 20 patents.

Backman has a track record of managing large-scale multi-investigator projects, including an NCI Center for Chromatin NanoImaging in Cancer (CCNC), NCI Bioengineering Research Partnership (BRP) and NCI Early Detection Research Network (EDRN). He is the co-founder of three biotech companies.