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‘Head-y’ Times

BioPhotonics
May 2013
Karen A. Newman, Group Publisher, karen.newman@photonics.com

From a see-through cerebrum to a push for brain mapping, “the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears” made headlines recently – and biomedical imaging is central to the unfolding story.

First came news of President Obama’s ambitious BRAIN Initiative, announced in early April. The expansive program, whose official name is Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, builds on a State of the Union call for investment in research and development that will drive innovation, job creation and economic growth. The president’s 2014 budget includes about $100 million in seed money for the research that will be supported by the National Institutes of Health, DARPA and the National Science Foundation; additional funding will come from private sources. The budget still has not been approved by Congress, but many in the optics community support the initiative, and a team of 15 scientists is in place to establish goals, strategies and costs.

Days after the BRAIN Initiative was announced, Stanford University optogeneticist Dr. Karl Deisseroth and a multidisciplinary team released images of the circuitry of a mouse’s brain, captured using a new method called CLARITY, a game-changing technique that could turn our scientific understanding of the brain on its head. “Studying intact systems with this sort of molecular resolution and global scope – to be able to see the fine detail and the big picture at the same time – has been a major unmet goal in biology, and a goal that CLARITY begins to address,” said Deisseroth, a bioengineer and psychiatrist who also happens to be part of the BRAIN team.

You can read our coverage, “Optogeneticist Creates Transparent Brain,” and watch a short video of Deisseroth discussing the project, as well as read and view our coverage of the BRAIN Initiative, at Photonics.com.

We know you’ll find plenty to exercise your own noodle inside this issue of BioPhotonics. In our cover story, Managing Editor Laura Marshall hosts a Q&A on photodynamic therapy and the promise it holds for cancer treatment, as well as on what may be keeping it from wider clinical uptake. Read “Q&A: Market Growing Slowly for PDT,” beginning on page 26, and then check out all the other interesting features in this issue.

With biophotonic technologies advancing rapidly, we felt the time was right to assemble an editorial advisory board to help us strategically cover this expanding field for our readers. Our advisory board currently comprises five professors, two MDs and a couple of entrepreneurs, all found in the five-person core group that includes Mark A. Anastasio, PhD, of Washington University in St. Louis; Stephen A. Boppart, MD, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; David Benaron, MD, of Stanford University’s School of Medicine and Spectros Corp.; Aydogan Ozcan, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles; and Adam Wax, PhD, of Duke University and Oncoscope Inc.

BioPhotonics editors are thrilled to be able to tap into the expertise of these individuals – who are at the forefront of light-based science and technologies in the life sciences. We are very grateful for their interest in sharing their perspectives, deep knowledge and passion for biophotonics with us and with you, our readers.


GLOSSARY
optogenetics
A discipline that combines optics and genetics to enable the use of light to stimulate and control cells in living tissue, typically neurons, which have been genetically modified to respond to light. Only the cells that have been modified to include light-sensitive proteins will be under control of the light. The ability to selectively target cells gives researchers precise control. Using light to control the excitation, inhibition and signaling pathways of specific cells or groups of cells...
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