Bio-Medical Optics Division

Bio-Medical Optics Division Overview

This division focuses on the use of light in biological research and medical applications as well as the development of the optical tools needed to perform this work. Through five technical areas this division encompasses laser and optical techniques and technologies for basic biological research, as well as medical diagnostics and therapeutic applications. Topics range from fundamental research and technology development, to biomedical studies, to clinical applications. Examples include the development and use of optical sensors to probe physiological and biological phenomena, the design and testing of imaging devices to visualize biological structure for research or diagnostics, spectroscopic and molecular probes to characterize biological function, and the use of optical technologies for cancer therapeutics. The goal of this division is to provide a forum for improved communication and interaction among researchers in fundamental optics, biomedical optics, biology, and medicine.

James Tunnell, University of Texas at Austin, United States, Chair

Technical Groups

Microscopy and Optical Coherence Tomography (BM)

Optical tools are well suited to the study of biology because the attainable spatial resolution matches so closely to the length scale of cells and sub-cellular features: the spatial scale over which many events in normal and disease-state biology are occurring. Microscopic imaging continues to play a dominant role in medicine and biology, driven by the continuous advances in terms of imaging capabilities and contrast mechanisms. This group emphasizes the development and application of new techniques for micrometer-scale structural and functional imaging of biological systems. Among the efforts of this group are the development and application of methods that optimize the optical examination of cellular and tissue biology through increased spatial resolution, higher acquisition speeds, improved penetration depths and maximized contrast. Directions of interest include super-resolution microscopy, multimodal approaches, linear and nonlinear quantitative imaging, phase-sensitive detection of optical signatures and the integration of microscopy and OCT with endoscopic applications.

Shuo Pang, University of Central Florida, CREOL, United States, Chair


Molecular Probes and Nanobio-Optics (BP)

With the advancing discovery of the molecular underpinnings of the normal and disease state in biology and medicine, it is becoming possible and increasingly important to form structural and functional images of biological systems with molecular specificity. This group focuses on the use of molecularly specific exogenous agents to both image and/or treat biological tissues. These technologies, including fluorescent proteins, quantum dots, and plasmonic nanoparticles, allow imaging the expression pattern of specific genes or the distribution of particular proteins in an intact biological system. In parallel, this new molecular information makes it possible to construct nano-scale probes that can be activated to produce therapeutic effects, potentially allowing molecular targeting with the probe coupled with spatial targeting with the activating light.

Hisataka Kobayashi, National Institutes of Health, United States, Chair


Optical Biosensors (BB)

Optical tools provide highly sensitive and specific means of detecting and quantifying the presence of biological materials as well as characterizing their properties. This group emphasizes the development and application of optical technologies for the targeted detection of trace biological compounds for molecularly-oriented medical diagnostics as well as for biological threat and contamination alerting. Integration of optical tools with micro-electro mechanical devices, microfluidics, and other lab-on-a-chip technologies, as well as the application of emerging technologies such as plasmonics and surface enhanced Raman scattering for biological assays are also important areas of focus.

Ian White, University of Maryland at College Park, United States, Chair


Optical Trapping and Manipulation in Molecular and Cellular Biology (BT)

Optical trapping has been widely used to uncover fundamental aspects of molecular and cellular biology, including the understanding of the movement mechanisms of molecular motors and the forces involved in cell adhesion. This group focuses on the development and application of novel optical trapping and manipulation techniques to biological problems. Focus areas include the use of evanescent fields and state of the art optical tweezers for molecular- and cellular-scale manipulation, integration of optical manipulation with microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip technologies, as well as optical sorting and optical methods for cell biology.

Steven Neale, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom, Chair


Photobiomodulation (BL)

Photobiomodulation is the mechanism by which non-ionizing optical radiation from lasers and non-coherent sources in the visible and near-infrared spectral range is absorbed by endogenous chromophores to elicit photo-physical and photo-chemical events at various biological scales, leading to physiological changes. Photobiomodulation is an emerging and rapidly expanding area of photonic research and therapeutic applications (PBMT) that have the potential to revolutionize modern health care. Currently, the risk to growth and acceptance of PBMT as predictable, safe and effective is the development and marketing of devices without a concurrent development of expertise and dissemination of fundamental knowledge in biomedical optics and photonics. The focus of the Photobiomodulation Technical Group will be to provide the necessary guidance and oversight to assure scientific accuracy in photobiomodulation basic research, clinical translation, and industrial development. The Photobiomodulation Technical Group also will establish an inclusive, timely and comprehensive list of effective and safe treatment parameters and mechanisms underpinning PBMT.

Juanita Anders, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, United States, Chair


Therapeutic Laser Applications (BA)

This group focuses on the use of lasers in surgery or in other treatments of disease. This includes the use of lasers as surgical tools for tissue cutting, welding, and coagulation, as well as the use of optics to initiate cell-damaging photochemical reactions for the treatment of diseases such as cancer. In addition, optics, spectroscopy, and imaging provide unique tools that may allow real-time diagnostics of the efficacy of clinical procedures. For many of these applications, the development of optical tools for appropriate light delivery, especially for fiber-based or endoscopic delivery to tissues that are not directly accessible, is critical. In addition, this group emphasizes basic science studies of the mechanisms by which light can affect tissue in adverse or therapeutic ways.

David Busch, University of Pennsylvania, United States, Chair


Tissue Imaging and Spectroscopy (BS)

A variety of techniques are being applied to in vivo optical imaging and spectroscopy in the case where the light is scattered many times as it passes through the sample. This group focuses on the use light to form images of tissue using diffusely scattered light or to determine tissue properties through spectroscopic measurements. Optical techniques used for both imaging and spectroscopy include reflection, absorption, fluorescence, phosphorescence, Raman, and the photo-acoustic effect. Such techniques are an essential tool for biomedical research involving small animals and hold great promise for clinical tasks such as breast cancer imaging, brain mapping, endoscopic imaging, and real-time feedback on efficacy during therapeutic procedures.

Paul Campagnola, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States, Chair