Thrust 1 – Intravital Optical Microscopy for Cellular Level Imaging

In this research area, the projects are focused on developing novel optical instrumentation and methods that address challenges in basic biomedical science and diagnosis. Light is uniquely well suited for non-invasively interrogating the microscopic structure, molecular composition, and biomechanical properties of biological tissues. Realizing these capabilities in practical instruments requires a multidisciplinary approach that addresses specific challenges by integrating advanced concepts from physics, engineering and materials science with biology and clinical experience. Below is a short list of active projects for the students with an academic background particularly in photonics, electrical or biomedical engineering, and physics. Some exemplary projects are as follows:

Topic 1 Quantitative High-Resolution Angiography

Understanding how blood vessels are affected by diseases and how they response to current therapies is of central importance to research in many diseases. The Vakoc Lab has previously demonstrated a method to visualize microvasculature. An exemplary project is exploiting image-processing algorithms to improve the identification of capillaries, measurement of flow speeds and other quantitative information about angiogenesis and vascular responses to therapy.

Topic 2 Wavelength-swept laser development

Innovation of OCT requires continued advances in rapidly tunable laser sources. The Bouma Lab has pioneered such laser sources. A student can pursue an independent project that complements our ongoing effort to improve the tuning range, sweep speed, and linewidth of semiconductor and doped-fiber lasers. For example, a student could design and construct a new class of discrete-mode, wavelength-stepped laser for use in next-generation coherence imaging systems. Through this mentored but independent research activity, the student will learn experimental optics and gain experience in optical testing and measurement.


Topic 3 In vivo two-photon flow cytometry

The Lin lab has developedan in vivo flow cytometer that is able to detect and quantify fluorescently labeled cells in circulation in real time, without needing to draw blood samples. A student could take on an independent project in our ongoing research on two-photon flow cytometer for label-free detection of tumor cells and white blood cells.