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Best Biophotonics Ideas on Display

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At Photonics West on Monday, as the BiOS part of the week was winding down, SPIE sponsored its first Biophotonics Start-Up Challenge. Based on the concept of the “elevator pitch,” 19 researchers – mostly newly minted PhDs and others at the beginning of their careers – each offered two minute descriptions of how their idea was worthy of further development and funding.

At stake for the top three presenters was an invitation to attend the Biomedical Engineering Entrepreneurship Academy, to be held at the University of California, Davis in July. The academy is designed to help participants flesh out their business ideas over 5 days, including help with market analysis and network development.

Because of the time constraints, the candidates were encouraged to forgo deeply scientific explanations behind their ideas. Instead, they were asked to impress the judges with their business savvy and strong concepts and to act as if they were speaking directly to the executives at a target company or to venture capitalists.

The participants included:

  • Perry Edwards, Pennsylvania State University – nonscanning holographic coherent anti-Stokes Raman microscope
  • Myunghwan Choi, KAIST – optical drug-delivery system
  • Babak Shadgan, University of British Columbia – early diagnosis of acute compartment syndrome using near-IR spectroscopy (Honorable Mention)
  • Amos Danielli, Washington University in St. Louis – magnetic modulation fluorescence biosensing for rapid detection of specific DNA and proteins at low concentrations
  • Jerome Lapointe, École Polytechnique de Montreal – a more lifelike artificial eye that uses LCDs to simulate pupil reactions (Honorable Mention)
  • Etienne Shaffer, EPFL – an optical device for early-stage cancer diagnoses
  • Natlja Skrebova Eikje, MC Professional OÜ, Estonia – skin applications development
  • Jonghee Yoon, KAIST – optical control of urinary bladder contraction using femtosecond laser pulses
  • Alexander Kalynov, Saratov University – a laser Doppler flowmeter
  • Yuan Luo, MIT – real-time four-dimensional holographic imaging system (Honorable Mention)
  • Michelle Yu, University of Toronto – silicon-based cancer sensors (Honorable Mention)
  • Yann Cotte, EPFL – optical device for systematic food inspection (Honorable Mention)
  • Behnam Molavi, University of British Columbia – wearable blood oxygenation sensor for exercise training
  • V. Masilamani, King Saud University – universal cancer detection via spectroscopy of blood, urine and sputum samples.
Second runner-up:

Natan T. Shaked of Duke University claimed a trip to the Biomedical Engineering Entrepreneurship Academy with “InCH,” a compact, portable quantitative phase microscope for label-free cell imaging. InCH, or interferometric chamber, microscopy, utilizes phase information, which Shaked said in his presentation provides better imaging than either brightfield or fluorescence microscopy.

First runner-up:

Chang Won of Temple University also earned a trip to the UC Davis event with his description of a novel system for detecting malignant breast tumors using tactile imaging. Based on total internal reflection principles, according to Won, the system offers tissue penetration of up to 3 cm. His target market is small clinics in China, Indian and other countries where hospitals and other imaging centers are sparsely located.


Harihan Subramanian of Northwestern University, who happened to be the first presenter, won the judges over with a new lung cancer screening methodology. Subramanian first noted that there remains a huge need for screening lung cancer, with 5 million possible patients requiring diagnosis. His winning idea, therefore, is a new screening technique that uses partial wave spectroscopic microscopy, which is sensitive enough to identify cancer cells well before normal histopathological methods can. The technique, according to Subramanian, could be readily used within the primary care setting. 

More Photonics West 2011 Coverage

Lynn Savage, Features Editor
Jan 2011
acute compartment syndromeAlexander KalynovAmericasAmos Danielliartificial eyesAsia-PacificBabak ShadganBehnam MolaviBiomedical Engineering Entrepreneurship AcademyBiophotonicsBiophotonics Start-Up ChallengeBiOsblood oxygenation sensorscancer diagnosescell imagingChang Wondrug delivery systemsDuke UniversityEtienne ShafferEuropefemtosecond lasersfood inspectionHarihan Subramanianholographic imagingimagingIndustry EventsJerome LapointeJonghee Yoonlaser Doppler flowmeterLCDsmagnetic modulation fluorescence biosensingMichelle YuMicroscopyMiddle EastMyunghwan ChoiNatan T. ShakedNatlja Skrebova Eikjenear-IR spectroscopynonscanning holographic coherent anti-Stokes Raman microscopeNorthwestern UniversityopticsPerry Edwardspw11quantitative phase microscopySensors & DetectorsspectroscopySPIESPIE Photonics West 2011tactile imagingTemple Universitytotal internal reflectionV. MasilamaniYann CotteYuan Luolasers

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