Skip to main content

News & Events

Research team receives NSF PFI:BIC award for innovations in mobile dental diagnostic instruments

September 7, 2016

Dr. Joel Berg operating an optical dental device
Dr. Joel Berg of the UW School of Dentistry operates a prototype optical device at the Center for Pediatric Dentistry, a facility operated jointly by the UW and Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Congratulations to ME research professor Eric Seibel and his research team for receiving a three-year, $1 million Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity (PFI:BIC) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF)!

Seibel is the lead investigator on the team from ME, which also includes graduate and undergraduate students and key faculty from HCDE (co-PI Sean Munson), EE, CSE, periodontics and pediatric dentistry.

The team is developing and testing easy-to-use optical dental diagnostic and therapy monitoring instruments for trained non-dentists, based on the fundamental technology shown in the image. These devices do not use x-ray radiation and can be much smaller and easily transportable, making them ideal for dental care workers who travel to clinics in rural areas or low-resource communities.

The NSF PFI:BIC program supports academic-industry partnerships to carry out research that advances, adapts and integrate technologies into a specified, human-centered smart service system for the purpose of testing new ways of providing health care services. This award is made possible thanks to contributions from Water Pik, Inc., a leading manufacturer of dental hygienic and therapy products.

Seibel leads the Human Photonics Laboratory at the UW, where researchers work to advance the frontier of optical technology in the areas of human performance, cancer detection and treatment. He is also an adjunct professor in the UW’s bioengineering and electrical engineering departments.

For more information, contact Eric Seibel at

More news: