William M. Whelan

BSc, MSc, PhD
Chair; Professor
(902) 566-0419
School of Sustainable Design Engineering Building, 217
MSc (McMaster)
PhD (McMaster)


  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Canadian Institute for Photonics Innovations 
  • Atlantic Innovation Fund
  • Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)
  • Canada Research Chair Program 

Currently, my research is focused on the development of emerging technologies for the biomedical science sector including novel methods for disease detection and cancer management.

However, the technology may find wider application in the material science and life science sectors. Specifically, we are investigating the potential of interstitial thermal therapy as an effective modality for the treatment of disease, including the thermal destruction of small solid tumors. This minimally invasive procedure involves implanting thin, flexible optical fibers (coupled to a laser) into the tissue and heating to above 60 ºC which denatures proteins and results in tissue damage. We are developing 1) accurate treatment planning algorithms to optimize clinical protocols, 2) on-line monitoring strategies to control treatments and 3) novel imaging modalities (i.e. optoacoustic imaging) to assess treatment outcome. We are currently focusing our efforts on the treatment of prostate cancer. However, the general goal of this work is to optimize and control interstitial thermal therapy for a variety of tissue pathologies.

  • Michelle Patterson, Christopher B. Riley, Michael C. Kolios, and William M. Whelan. “Optoacoustic characterization of prostate cancer in an in vivo transgenic murine model”, Journal of Biomedical Optics 19(5):056008, 2014.
  • Serge Grabtchak, Logan G. Montgomery and William M. Whelan. “Feasibility of interstitial near-infrared radiance spectroscopy platform for ex vivo canine prostate studies: optical properties extraction, hemoglobin and water concentration and gold nanoparticles detection”, Journal of Biomedical Optics 19(5):057003, 2014.
  • Serge Grabtchak, Logan G. Montgomery and William M Whelan. “Optical absorption and scattering properties of bulk porcine muscle phantoms from interstitial radiance measurements in 650–900 nm range”, Phys. Med. Biol. 59 2431, 2014.
  • Serge Grabtchak, Kristen B. Callaghan, and William M. Whelan. “Tagging photons with gold nanoparticles as localized absorbers in optical measurements in turbid media”, Biomedical Optics Express, 4(12), pp. 2989-3006, 2013.
  • Serge Grabtchak, Elena Tonkopi and William M. Whelan, "Optical detection of gold nanoparticles in a prostate-shaped porcine phantom", Journal of Biomedical Optics, 18(7):077005, 2013.
  • Serge Grabtchak, Tyler J. Palmer, I. Alex Vitkin and William M. Whelan. "Radiance detection of nonscattering inclusions in turbid media", Biomedical Optics Express, 3(11), pp. 3001-3011, 2012.
  • Serge Grabtchak and William M. Whelan, “Separation of absorption and scattering properties of turbid media using relative spectrally resolved cw radiance measurements”, Biomedical Optics Express, 3 (10), pp. 2371–2380, 2012.
  • Serge Grabtchak, Tyler J. Palmer, Florian Foschum , Andre Liemert , Alwin Kienle and William M. Whelan. “Experimental spectro-angular mapping of light distribution in turbid media” Journal of Biomedical Optics, 17, 067007, 2012.
  • Serge Grabtchak, Tyler J. Palmer, William M. Whelan. “Radiance spectroscopy tool box for characterizing Au nanoparticles in tissue mimicking phantoms as applied to prostate” Journal of Cancer Science and Therapy, S1-008, 2011.
  • Serge Grabtchak, Tyler J. Palmer, William M. Whelan. “Detection of localized inclusions of gold nanoparticles in Intralipid-1% by point-radiance spectroscopy” Journal of Biomedical Optics, 16(7), 077003. 2011.
  • Behrouz Soroushian, William M. Whelan, and Michael C. Kolios. "Study of laser induced thermoelastic deformation of native and coagulated ex vivo bovine liver tissues for estimating their optical and thermo mechanical properties", Journal of Biomedical Optics. 15(6), 065002. 2010.
  • Matthew Rodrigues, Robert A. Weersink, and William M. Whelan. "Assessment of thermal coagulation in ex vivo tissues using Raman spectroscopy", Journal of Biomedical Optics, 15(6), 068001. 2010.
  • Lee Chin, Brendan Lloyd, William M. Whelan, and I.Alex Vitkin, "Interstitial point radiance spectroscopy of turbid media", Journal of Applied Physics, 105, 102025, 2009 (Special Topic: Applied Biophysics), (Invited).
  • GM Spirou, A Mandelis, IA Vitkin and WM Whelan, "Frequency-domain photothermoacoustic signal amplitude dependence on the optical properties of the water - turbid polyvinyl chloride-plastisol (PVCP) system", Applied Optics, Vol. 47, Issue 14, pp. 2564-2573, 2008.
  • GM Spirou, A Mandelis, IA Vitkin and WM Whelan, "A Calibration technique for requency-domain photothermoacoustics", European Physical Journal (Special Topics), 153, 491-494, 2008.


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