BIOPHOTONICS: Pioneer tributes kick off BiOS/Photonics West 2011

Now that it represents fully 45% of the educational content at Photonics West, the annual Biomedical Optics Symposium (BiOS) dominates this industry-leading annual event. And the focal gathering during BiOS 2011, the appropriately named Hot Topics plenary, showcased some of the most interesting work underway—mostly in research, but also in the commercial realm.

This year's Hot Topics was expanded to include a retrospective of the life of Britton Chance, professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, who passed away just two months prior to BiOS 2011 at age 97. "More than any other individual," said Bruce Tromberg, Director of the University of California Irvine's Beckman Laser Institute, "Brit's prolific research, teaching, and leadership have fueled the growth of biomedical optics and photonics throughout the world." Tromberg and University of Pennsylvania professor Arjun Yodh concluded a joy-filled tribute presentation by proposing a new unit of measurement: the Britton Chance Unit (BCU), equal to 100 milliwatts/square cm, which is the maximum exposure intensity for biological tissue damage. The SPIE has launched the Britton Chance Biomedical Optics award, to be presented annually (deadline for the first submissions is October 1, 2011), to honor his memory.

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The SPIE has announced a new award to honor the memory of Britton Chance, who "fueled the growth of biomedical optics and photonics throughout the world."

The celebration of Chance's career followed a similarly thought-provoking tribute, by Dasari Rao Ramachandra (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), to Michael Feld, the MIT professor who pioneered the application of spectroscopy to biomedicine. Not long after BiOS 2010, Feld lost his battle with cancer, but his presence is still with us, as was aptly demonstrated in a discussion of recent work that promises to overcome obstacles to the long-anticipated promise of noninvasive glucose monitoring and tomographic cell imaging.

Then, seven other presenters took the stage: Alexander Oraevsky of TomoWave Labs Inc. examined 3-D optoacoustic tomography; David Huang, a pioneer of optical coherence tomography (OCT), discussed new OCT developments impacting that technology's original application—ophthalmology; Laura Marcu of the University of California/Davis talked about fluorescence lifetime techniques for intravascular diagnostics; MIT's Ed Boyden discussed the use of light to control the brain; Harvard's Eric Mazur presented novel uses of femtosecond laser pulses; Kärsten Koenig of Saarland University and JenLab GmbH explored clinical multiphoton tomography; and Paras Prasad of the University of Buffalo discussed a multiplex platform for analyzing macromolecular dynamics in live cells.

In two other plenary sessions, Frances S. Ligler, the Navy's Senior Scientist for Biosensors and Biomaterials and current Chair of the Bioengineering Section of the National Academy of Engineering, presented a Perspective on the Future of Optical Biosensors. And Harold G. Craighead, Director of the Nanobiotechnology Center at Cornell University, explored the use of nanostructures for biological research.

Please see our New Products reporting, both in print and online, in addition to the BioOptics Worldview blog, for more news and technology previews coming out of BiOS/Photonics West 2011.

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