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Created Novel Research

NIBIB’s Gorbach, Infrared Imaging Expert, Is Mourned

Dr. Alexander Gorbach

Dr. Alexander Gorbach

Dr. Alexander Gorbach, an NIBIB staff scientist and chief of the infrared imaging and thermometry unit, an NIH Biomedical Engineering & Physical Science (BEPS) shared resource, died May 11 after a brief illness. He was 69.

Gorbach provided state-of-the-art expertise and specialized instrumentation for patient monitoring during surgeries. His innovative research included techniques for monitoring tissue perfusion, oxygen content and temperature, as well as wireless electronic sensors and applications of mobile phone technology.

Along with his colleague, NIBIB deputy scientific director Dr. Henry Eden, Gorbach became a familiar figure at student expos and science fairs with their presentation of thermal imaging.

Gorbach obtained his Ph.D. in 1989 from the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow then joined NIH, first as a visiting research fellow and guest researcher at NIDDK. He transitioned into a role as a special expert in surgical neurology at NINDS and staff scientist at the Clinical Center.

With the founding of NIBIB’s intramural program in 2003, Gorbach launched his 15-year leadership of the BEPS infrared and thermometry unit, conducting research in remote sensing and in vivo functional imaging.

The scale of Gorbach’s studies ranged from single cells to intact humans, using various tools including infrared imaging, near-infrared hyperspectral and multispectral functional imaging, laser-speckle imaging, infrared microscopy and microwave thermometric mapping. These imaging methods do not require artificial contrast substances, so adapt well to clinical research. He described these methods as “infrared photography.”

NIBIB scientific director Dr. Richard Leapman said Gorbach anchored an important aspect of the intramural program. “Alex participated in numerous clinical collaborations across the NIH employing his methods,” Leapman said. “Over the past decade, Alex mentored some 20 post-baccalaureate students, all of whom were accepted into medical schools or other graduate schools.”

Gorbach’s collaborations involved research with scientists and clinicians across the NIH campus—including at NINDS, NIEHS, NHLBI, NCI, NIAID and the Clinical Center—and around the world, including those at the Naval Medical Research Center, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and various universities in the United States and Europe.

Gorbach is survived by his wife, Marina, and sons Yuri and Michael and their families.

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