March 2014

The recent evolution of biomedical optics in one graphic*

By Kyle Quinn | Posted: 27 March 2014

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Salt and Pepper (Noise): Key Ingredients for Imaging Blood Flow

By Ken Tichauer | Posted: 25 March 2014

We’ve all experienced that “salt-and-pepper”, or white noise when our favorite television show cuts out on us. Well it turns out that similar “speckle” patterns are also seen when projecting laser light onto biological tissue, owing to interference patterns of the monochromatic light source. Now you might say, “so what!” and that’s probably what most would say. However, in the early 1980’s Fercher and Brier realized that movement of blood could disturb the laser speckle pattern, and this disturbance could be used to estimate blood flow [1].

In the decades following this breakthrough, Laser Speckle Imaging has been employed to visualize blood flow in the skin [2], the retina [3], and brain [4]. To date there are over 600 published articles that have included biomedical applications of Speckle Imaging. Why so popular? There are certainly many other approaches available for monitoring blood flow such as Doppler ultrasound, laser Doppler, and a slew of dynamic contrast enhanced imaging modalities. However, none of these approaches can offer the exquisite temporal resolution (milliseconds), and spatial resolution (10s of microns) that can be attained by Laser Speckle Imaging. And nowhere have these advantages been used to greater benefit than in the study of “neurovascular coupling”, which necessitates the ability to resolve the interplay between neuronal activity and blood delivery in the brain at the millisecond and micron resolution scales only offered by Speckle Imaging.

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A Woman's Place is in the Lab

By Johnathan George | Posted: 24 March 2014

As a female engineer, one becomes accustomed to being a minority: in the lecture theatre, in the graduate lab and in the workplace.  We have come a long way from the days when women scientists were an anomaly, but the number of women choosing STEM courses and careers at the undergraduate and graduate level still lags behind our male counterparts.  But to grow female representation in STEM, from the classroom through to leadership roles, relies upon on increased support not just within the research and education communities, but also from hiring managers in industry. Perhaps most importantly, it relies on sustained commitment to active community engagement and a commitment to make a difference.

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Day 1 continued: Learning to See Through Walls

By David Norris | Posted: 7 March 2014

Is it possible to look inside an object using only light reflected off the front?  Can you transmit more light through an attenuating medium by making it even thicker?  Could a bank verify your identity using the pattern of light scattered off your teeth? 

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Day 2: Propagating Further

By David Norris | Posted: 7 March 2014

After a final session of talks on new developments in 3D imaging methods and funding opportunities, our host Jerome Mertz presented a timely summary of outstanding problems and possible solutions identified during this week's Incubator meeting:

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Day 1: Seeing Order in Disorder

By David Norris | Posted: 6 March 2014

Greetings from Washington, DC, and the OSA Controlled Light Propagation Incubator meeting! Hosted by Tom Bifano and Jerome Mertz, Boston University, USA; Sylvain Gigan, Institut Langevin, France; and Allard Mosk, University of Twente, Netherlands; today’s event brings leading researchers from the fields of biological imaging and adaptive optics together with partners from industry and government for a candid discussion of the technological breakthroughs, challenges, and goals that have materialized in the past few years.  This is the eleventh meeting in the OSA’s Incubator series, which was established in 2009 as a way to promote the growth and development of nascent fields within the broader optics and photonics research community.

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Reducing Drug Trial Costs with Imaging Technology

By Ken Tichauer | Posted: 4 March 2014

95% of new cancer therapeutics fail to make it past Phase II clinical trials. This means that while it should only cost about $50 million per drug for FDA approval, incorporating the cost of failures leads to an estimated cost of $1 billion per drug (1), with a recent Forbes article suggesting that this number is considerably higher (2).So why are so many drugs failing in clinical trials?

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