The Biophotonics Lab at Vanderbilt University works closely with the School of Medicine and the College of Arts and Science. In this way, fundamental discovery and research complements our clinical research and commercial translation of optical technologies to improve patient care. Ongoing research projects are structured as follows:
Optical Guidance - Guiding therapy in general and surgery in particular is a relatively easier problem. The techniques used need to be able to differentiate between the target tissue (that needs to be removed) and all other tissues. Blood may be the primary confounder in the implementation of optical techniques for this problem. Techniques are selected based on their optimal implementation to solve the specific problem at hand.
Optical Diagnosis - Diagnosis of disease is the most challenging clinical problem as it is important to not only recognize the presence of non-normal conditions but to also differentially diagnose what benign or malignant condition it might be. Many different optical methods can be used to diagnose diseases in patients in vivo, in real-time. These include such techniques as fluorescence, diffuse reflectance, Raman scattering, optical coherence tomography. The primary confounder in optical diagnosis is the inter-patient variability that needs to be addressed for effective application in patient care.
Optical Imaging - This research focuses on the development of optical imaging tools that monitor biological markers such as cellular metabolic rate, molecular expression, blood oxygenation and blood flow. These tools are applied to pre-clinical models for the design and development of effective therapeutic strategies, and in clinical studies to assess parathyroid viability.
Optical Stimulation - Our labs have pioneered the application of pulsed infrared lasers for the activation of neural tissues in a damage free, artifact free, contact free way. Based on this discovery, we have numerous ongoing projects that are focused on what we call infrared neural stimulation. These projects span from the fundamental discovery of what makes INS work to the clinical translation of this technique in human nerves in vivo.