Hot Topics moderator Sergio Fantini was doing an admirable job of trying to keep to the schedule. He gently chided presenters who went over the allotted 10 minutes and very politely encouraged others to observe this limit. “I know the next speaker will successfully meet the challenge of finishing on time,” he said as he introduced one of the talks, somewhere around 9 p.m., “perhaps even early.” The presenters will be forgiven, of course. The Hot Topics session, held last night as part of the BiOS / Photonics West conference here in San Francisco, spotlighted the latest developments in biophotonics — especially those relating to clinical applications — and clearly there was much to tell. In the first talk of the evening, “Opportunities for Light in Breast Cancer Therapy,” Nirmala Ramanujam of Duke University discussed the potential of optical techniques for intraoperative margin assessment. Improving local control is key to increasing survival in early-stage breast cancer, she said, and monitoring intrinsic sources of optical contrast — using diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, for example — can help to achieve this. Similarly, elastic scattering spectroscopy offers a means to detect a variety of cancers. This approach was first described back in 1991, said Irving Bigio of Boston University, but developments in the past several years have bumped it into the “hot topics” category. For instance, recent studies suggest that the technique can assess cancer risk by monitoring the field effect in normal rectal mucosa. Further validation is needed, Bigio noted, but the implications of these findings could be significant. A number of groups have sought to combine optical techniques with other imaging modalities, calling on the strengths of each. Brian Pogue of Dartmouth University described several of these, looking specifically at image-guided molecular spectroscopy, in which functional information from one modality is overlaid onto structural images from another. Examples include ultrasound-guided fluorescence molecular spectroscopy and MRI-guided EGFR imaging. Several techniques are already well-established in the clinical arena. In his talk, “Intravascular OCT Extends Its Reach Into Clinical Practice,” Joseph Schmitt of LightLabs Imaging traced the evolution of this application over the past decade, highlighting the rise in the number of publications in clinical cardiology journals and describing the major developments in commercial systems, and then looking toward the technical advances on the horizon. Also, Amiram Grinvald of Optical Imaging Inc. discussed retinal functional imaging with OCT. Ophthalmology has already benefited tremendously from use of the technique. Current research is seeking to improve diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Other talks included “Speckle Imaging, Tissue Spectroscopy” by Steven Jacques of Oregon Health and Sciences University, “Differential Multiphoton Microscopy” by Jeff Squier of Colorado School of Mines, and “Making Light Work in Microscopy” by Tony Wilson of University of Oxford.