Bio-optics: Everywhere at once

Nov. 1, 2009
Bio-optics watchers must be in multiple places simultaneously each autumn in order to experience first hand all the exciting work being reported at so many events.

Bio-optics watchers must be in multiple places simultaneously each autumn in order to experience first hand all the exciting work being reported at so many events. Besides BioOpto Japan and the World Molecular Imaging Congress (see reports starting on page 9) this fall’s schedule included the NIH/SPIE Inter-Institute Workshop on Optical Diagnostic and Biophotonic Methods from Bench to Bedside (October 1–2, Bethesda, MD) which focused on work to transition optical methods from the lab to clinical settings. Doug Malchow of Goodrich-Sensors Unlimited attended with a specific interest in optical coherence tomography (OCT), and said, “It was truly inspiring to see how OCT is close to becoming a standard of care for intravascular assessment of vulnerable plaque and placement of stents.” Brett Bouma of Massachusetts General Hospital showed a stunning time-lapse video of a tumor’s growth in its vasculature using Doppler OCT. Malchow recommends a special issue of the SPIE’s Journal of Biomedical Optics with papers from the conference, due out December 1. See his full report on the Optical Coherence Tomography and Medical Imaging group page at

Among work presented at the OSA’s Frontiers in Optics (FiO; October 11–15, San Jose, CA) was that done by Kirill Larin of the University of Houston (TX) involving live imaging of cardio dynamics–and measurement of blood flow from individual cells–in IVF mouse embryos using OCT. Katherine Baker of the University of California, San Diego explained the design and prototype fabrication of a neonatal video laryngoscope, and Eric Mazur of Harvard University described the ability to perform surgery on a single neuron. Also at FiO Chester Wildey of the University of Texas, Dallas, presented improved imaging of live subjects using a digital camera modified to track and compensate for micron-level movements of the head. The camera is being adapted to measure a heartbeat remotely by recording movements of tabs placed on the skin: Wildey hopes to enable detection of atherosclerosis by comparing heartbeats in different parts of the body.

At the Neuroscience 2009 conference (October 17–21, Chicago, IL), it was generally less easy to discover what tools are behind the extraordinary scientific achievements discussed. But the exhibit hall was packed with optics and photonics components and systems based on them–including all the big microscopy developers discussing live cell imaging. A highlight was a keynote address by NIH director Francis Collins, who urged listeners to reach out to members of congress and their health staffers in order to communicate the benefits of NIH funding so that society can understand the value of continued support.

Finally, mark December 1 as the deadline for entering the biennial Berthold Leibinger Innovationspreis competition. The prize honors work or technical development in applied laser technology. See for details.

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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