Research

Biomedical Optics is a fast growing area of research in medicine. Optical methods for diagnostic and functional imaging, detection, and manipulation of cells and tissues encompass inputs from several fields including optical physics, biophysics, biochemistry, engineering, biology, medicine, mathematics, and computer science. The research activities of Biomedical Optics Laboratory concentrate on development of new methods and techniques (such as Optical Coherence Tomography) for structural and functional imaging and biosensing of tissues and cells. Some of the research projects include:

Noninvasive Functional and Structural Imaging of Embryonic Development
The overall objective of this project is to utilize high-resolution methods for noninvasive functional and structural imaging of mammalian embryos using Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), Optical Projection Tomography (OPT), and and Selective Plane Illumination Microscopy (SPIM) techniques. We are currently studying embryonic cardiovascular structure and function during embryonic development to understand the nature of congenital defects. We are also investigating the effects of common teratogens, such as alcohol and nicotine, on the developing embryonic brain to elucidate the acute and chronic changes to embryo neurophysiology during critical stages for neural development.
Optical Coherence Elastography
The biomechanical properties of tissues can have a profound influence on the health, structural integrity, and normal function of different organs. Several diseases (such as cancer, keratoconus, etc) and therapeutic interventions (such as corneal collagen crosslinking and LASIK surgeries) can alter biomechanical properties (elasticity) of the tissues and, thus, can lead to significant alternation in organ function. Under this project, we are developing several methods for noncontact assessment of tissue biomechanical properties and appropriate mechanical models that incorporate the unique geometry and boundary conditions of the various tissues under investigation.
Noninvasive Optical Sensing of Micro-Retroreflectors in Turbid Media and Tissue
The ability to detect sensor signals from below tissue surfaces without implanting large capacity power sources, the use of toxic fluorophores, or puncturing the skin would enable noninvasive and low-cost monitoring that is important for proper treatment of common diseases such as diabetes. The primary goal of this project is to develop a micro-retroreflector-based, self-calibrated technology as a platform for a biosensor. This work has the potential of creating a sensor platform that can be detected within tissue for applications to improve immunoassays, cell sorting, microarray applications, and in-vivo monitoring of glucose.
OCT-based Drug Diffusion Biosensor and Early Diagnostics
We are developing novel methods for noninvasive functional imaging of tissues and assessment of drug diffusion in ocular and vascular tissues. This method could facilitate development of novel therapeutic agents and drug-delivery techniques and enhance the overall understanding of topical drug delivery. Preliminary studies also suggest that this imaging method could potentially be applied for early diagnostics of various epithelial diseases, including cardiovascular abnormalities.
Noninvasive Detection and Assessment of Gas Emboli and DCS
Noninvasive functional imaging, monitoring and quantification of microbubbles forming in blood and tissues upon rapid changes in barometric pressure are extremely important for effective therapy and diagnostics of several diseases as well as for several imaging and drug delivery projects. We are developing Phase-Sensitive Swept Source OCT (PhS-SSOCT) technique for real-time, sensitive, accurate, and noninvasive imaging, monitoring, and quantification of microbubbles in skin.
Cancer Imaging
The main goal of the project is to enable surgeons to distinguish between normal and cancerous fat tissue in real-time using OCT. Currently, differentiating between Liposarcoma and normal fat tissue especially at the margins require biopsy of the tissue sample which consumes time. OCT can perform in-depth imaging of a tissue and along with image processing techniques, can help in identifying the margins, in real-time.

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