Whose responsibility?

March 1, 2012
Whose responsibility is it to bear the significant burden of investment for adapting biophotonics technology to clinical application?
Barbaragoode2

Whose responsibility is it to bear the significant burden of investment for adapting biophotonics technology to clinical application? Should the instrumentation developers be expected to step up? Or should it be the laser manufacturers? How about the clinical groups that will benefit?

This was perhaps the most interesting question brought up during an industry panel session on multiphoton microscopy that I attended at Photonics West, the largest annual photonics industry event, held this year January 21–27 in San Francisco.

Are you surprised by the question? I was. But a conversation I had with colleagues revealed that the same issue was brought up in another Photonics West session, so it's a concern not limited to the group I joined. And it seems critically important: I'd argue that the issue of responsibility must be addressed in order for bio-optical instrumentation to have its full effect in the marketplace and on patient outcomes.

Another refrain, in both the multiphoton microscopy session and elsewhere, was the increasing urgency for multimodal imaging. Kevin Jia, Ph.D., of Olympus put it this way, "Just one modality is not enough; typically you need at least two to get what you want." I noted several other themes that impact life sciences, too, including development and application of techniques such as optical coherence tomography (OCT), spectroscopy, and spectral imaging.

Although the volume of papers presented at the Biomedical Optics Symposium (BiOS) didn't exhibit the year-on-year growth it has shown since the symposium's inception, co-chairs Jim Fujimoto (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Rox Anderson (Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard School of Medicine) said that in this "uncertain economy," holding steady at 1,795 is nonetheless a positive indicator. And it is, after all, nearly half of all papers presented at this enormous event.

Exhibits at BiOS didn't just hold steady, but grew 15% over last year, according to SPIE, which organizes the event. I don't know how to measure excitement in the exhibit hall, but I sure was inspired by what I found there, some of which I tried to capture in my exhibits highlight report. You'll also find, in our News & Notes department, a summary of the Saturday night Hot Topics session (to which, by the way, it's impossible to do justice in a short report).

BioOptics World Associate Editor Lee Mather said her favorite Hot Topics presentation was the one by Brian Wong, a professor of otolaryngology who describes himself as primarily a clinician. Dr. Wong discussed the use of OCT in the head, neck, and upper airway—which has implications for such common conditions as sleep apnea. If this is a topic that captures your imagination, be sure to mark your calendar for June 28, when Dr. Wong will make an expanded presentation of this material through an online webcast, with opportunity to ask questions.

And while you're online, please drop me a note ([email protected]) and let me know what you think about that question up top about responsibility for adapting technology to clinical application. I'd love to hear your input.

About the Author

Barbara Gefvert | Editor-in-Chief, BioOptics World (2008-2020)

Barbara G. Gefvert has been a science and technology editor and writer since 1987, and served as editor in chief on multiple publications, including Sensors magazine for nearly a decade.

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