PHOTOACOUSTICS/MICROSCOPY: With interdisciplinary approach, BioPIC promotes excellence

Designed as a multidisciplinary showcase of advances in light-based imaging technologies and their potential application to biology and medicine, the BioPIC 2013 international BioPhotonics and Imaging Conference (Dublin, Ireland; March 25-27) featured lively discussions among physicists, biologists, and clinicians.

The meeting was attended by 120 senior scientists, postdoctoral researchers, and PhD students. Industry exhibits from iThera Medical and VisualSonics, displaying novel photoacoustic systems, were popular with delegates. Prof. Vasilis Ntziachristos, a founder of iThera Medical, spoke about the development of multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT), which offers unprecedented optical imaging performance for visualizing anatomical, physiological, and molecular imaging biomarkers.

BioPIC 2013 organizing committee members (L to R) Professor Michele Saviano (Italy), Prof. Tony Lahoutte (Belgium), Prof. Brian Harvey (Ireland), Dr. Cinzia Giannini (Italy), Prof. Peter Dockery (Ireland), Prof. Martin Leahy (Ireland), and Prof. Tia Keyes (Ireland).

A session on National and European Strategy in Photonics and Imaging involved leaders of Irish and European networks who spoke of future directions for imaging in the European Research Area. Other talks covered a broad range of subjects, including label-free nanoscopy, peptide-directed metal complex lumiophores for in-cell sensing, cellular in vivo imaging in depth, and real-time analysis of cell energy metabolism with genetically encoded fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) biosensors.

Keynote speaker Prof. Patrice Mollard (Institut de Génomique Fonctionnelle, France) discussed his laboratory's development of a two-photon microscope with long working distance (2 cm) for neural imaging in mice. A recent publication from this group demonstrated a functional relationship between bloodborne signals and appetite-modifying neurons located in close proximity to fenestrated capillaries. Another keynote, by Daniel Choquet (Interdisciplinary Institute for Neuroscience, France), explained how it is now possible to visualize single molecules within the brain using super-resolution imaging. And Katerina Svanberg (Lund University Hospital, Sweden) spoke of how laser-induced fluorescence can monitor very early chemical changes in tissue as it progresses from normal to abnormal to cancerous. These chemical changes can be visualized before any physical changes can be observed-a fact that implies clear clinical benefits.

The conference was hosted by the National Biophotonics and Imaging Platform Ireland (NBIP Ireland) in association with the Royal Microscopy Society, Irish Research Council, and Science Foundation Ireland. Brian Harvey, NBIP director and professor of molecular medicine at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), believes that BioPIC 2013 has been hugely important for promoting excellence in the field of photonics. "By bringing those with high-impact biological problems to solve together with those developing sensing and imaging solutions, BioPIC 2013 has stimulated discussion on innovative solutions for discovery and treatment," he explained.

NBIP Ireland was established in 2007 under HEA PRTLI Cycle 4. The platform consists of a consortium of imaging and biophotonics laboratories from across seven universities and two institutes of technology in Ireland, and three EU partners: CNRS Montpellier (France), the CNR (National Research Council) Institute of Biostructure and Bioimaging Naples (Italy), and The Nordic Imaging Network (Finland).

For further information, visit www.nbipireland.ie/events.—Sheeona Gorman, Ph.D., Research Programmes Manager, RCSI

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