Shining Light on Human Life
Our research is focused on developing integrative photonics solutions to complex problems in biological research and medical diagnosis. The field of biomedical optics and spectroscopy has expanded greatly due to the technological advances in optical instrumentation and the development of label-free imaging methodologies for clinical applications. While these photonics approaches provide deeper insight into molecular, cellular and sometimes even into tissue level processes, their translation from the bench to the bed-side has met substantive hurdles stemming from the lack of integrative solutions that address the experimental, analytical and clinical phases. For example, the proposed approaches for fully non-invasive detection of blood glucose (the so-called “Holy Grail of biophotonics”) suffer from a combination of inadequate sensitivity and specificity as well as a limited understanding of the coupling between optical measurements and inherent physiological processes.
Our work utilizes a diverse array of spectroscopic modalities that exploit the intrinsic contrast in biological media, such as tissue matrices, along with rigorous analytical methods in order to elucidate latent information about different pathological conditions. By incorporating expert clinical insights into the overall analysis framework, our work is able to identify and analyze the relevant biochemical information contained in the myriad of available spectroscopic data, and use the developed models for prospective diagnosis in patient populations.
The overarching philosophy is to formulate the scientific research and development activities in synergy with the driving biomedical problems creating a strong “push-pull” relationship. These integrative approaches can provide truly novel avenues for probing the scientific basis of pathological conditions, and we are committed to applying these methods to critical clinical problems, such as cancer diagnostics and diabetes monitoring, inclose collaboration with medical experts.
Furthermore, significant basic research, guided by this integrative approach, remains to be performed to address emerging questions on the etiology and pathogenesis of critical diseases. In addition, just as recent developments have expanded the focus of biophotonics to include point-of-care diagnostics, we envision that future advances will shift the field towards a more comprehensive understanding of systems level biology, disease pathways, and potentially even therapeutic options.