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ECBO Promotes Advances in Biomedical Optics

May 2011
Christoph K. Hitzenberger, Medical University of Vienna

The development and application of optical techniques and tools for biomedical imaging, diagnostics and therapy have been continuously expanding for several decades. These advances are based on multidisciplinary efforts requiring contributions from various fields such as physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, informatics and medicine. While physicists explore the application of basic optical principles to biomedical problems, and chemists develop new molecular and target-specific probes, hard- and software engineers translate these results into practical devices that are tested by clinicians for diagnostic and therapeutic usefulness to patients. Based on the results, the clinicians can provide valuable feedback to basic scientists and engineers for future improvements of their methods.

The European Conferences on Biomedical Optics will be a highlight of this year’s Laser World of Photonics trade fair. The show, held every other year, brings together key industry and research players from around the world to spark growth in both sectors. Images courtesy of Messe München GmbH.

To be successful, this multidisciplinary approach requires cooperation, communication and exchange of ideas between scientists of the various involved disciplines. The European Conferences on Biomedical Optics (ECBO), the largest group of biomedical optics conferences in Europe, is a venue for this kind of communication and idea exchange. The meeting is held every other year and is jointly sponsored by SPIE and OSA. It is colocated with the world’s number one fair on lasers, optics and optoelectronics, Laser World of Photonics in Munich, Germany, as well as with numerous other society meetings organized by WLT, EOS, OSA, CLEO-Europe, IEEE/LEOS and EPS.

ECBO 2011 comprises seven conferences:

• Advanced Microscopy Techniques II
• Clinical and Biomedical Spectroscopy and Imaging II
• Diffuse Optical Imaging III
• Molecular Imaging III
• Novel Biophotonic Techniques and Applications
• Optical Coherence Tomography and Coherence Techniques V
• Medical Laser Applications and Laser-Tissue Interactions V

A total of 458 contributions were submitted to these seven conferences, an increase of approximately 13 percent over the figure from the previous event in 2009. But ECBO not only strives to grow in quantity but also seeks to maintain and further improve the quality of presentations. Toward this end, a full peer review process was held by the program committee of each conference. This procedure was first implemented at ECBO 2009.

Special events

The following special events of ECBO should not be missed:

There will be two plenary lectures on Tuesday, May 24:

• On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of OCT, Wolfgang Drexler, Medical University of Vienna, will present a talk on “Twenty Years of Optical Coherence Tomography: Where Is It Heading?

• Mary-Ann Mycek, University of Michigan, will speak on “Optical Spectroscopy for Clinical Detection of Pancreatic Cancer.”


Two joint sessions with E-CLEO are scheduled:

• On Monday, May 23, Jim Fujimoto, MIT, will give a tutorial on OCT, and Stefan M. Witte, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, will speak on “Label-Free Live Brain Imaging with Third-Harmonic Generation Microscopy.”

• On Tuesday, May 24, Emmanuel Beaurepaire, Ecole Polytechnique, will speak on “Nonlinear Microscopy of Tissues and Embryo Morphogenesis” Fiorenzo Omenetto, Tufts University, will present a talk on “Silk – New Opportunities in Optics and Photonics for an Ancient Material,” and Brian E. Applegate, Texas A&M University, will speak on “Development of Transient Absorption Ultrasonic Microscopy.”

The postdeadline/hot topics session on Wednesday, May 25, will feature late-breaking scientific results.

Technical presentations

Apart from these special events, the main attractions at ECBO are the more than 450 presentations (talks and posters) submitted by authors from all over the world. An overview of all the scheduled presentations would be beyond the scope of this article. Furthermore, the diversity of studies (theoretical, modeling, basic experimental, clinically oriented) makes it difficult to select the presentations to be mentioned. Therefore, I have decided to give a short overview of some topics and talks that received the highest scores in the peer review process, that are likely to have high impact, and that seem to be most attractive to a general audience with an interest in biomedical optics. (I know that especially the latter criterion is rather subjective, and I apologize for any omissions.)

Among the most highly profiled presentations of the Advanced Microscopy Techniques Conference are 3-D fluorescence lifetime imaging techniques for imaging small (mm) and large (cm) samples (J. McGinty et al, Imperial College London); 3-D imaging by self-interference fluorescence endoscopy (M. de Groot et al, VU University Amsterdam); quantitative imaging of cell division in zebra fish embryos by multiharmonic microscopy (N. Olivier et al, Ecole Polytechnique, CNRS, INSERM, Palaiseau, France); and imaging of embryos with multiphoton light sheet microscopy (W. Supatto et al, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena).

Some of the highlights of the Clinical and Biomedical Spectroscopy and Imaging Conference are Raman microspectroscopy applications for identification of bacteria (P. Rösch et al, Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena) and for studying live cells in collagen matrices (F. Bonnier et al, Focas Research Institute, Dublin); a new optical fiber sensor for pH measurement in the stomach (F. Baldini et al, IFAC-CNR, Sesto Fiorentino, Italy); differentiation of melanin types by transient absorption microscopy, which is potentially useful for melanoma diagnostics (M.C. Fischer et al, Duke University, Durham, N.C.); and assessment of breast tumor margins by quantitative spectral imaging (B. Yu et al, Duke University).

Breast imaging is also one of the highlights of the Diffuse Optical Imaging Conference (P. Taroni et al, Politecnico di Milano). This work investigates the replacement of hazardous x-ray mammography by nonhazardous optical radiation. Other highly scored contributions to this conference include brain imaging and measurements by functional near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to study motor tasks (A. Torricelli, Politecnico di Milano), cognitive tasks (A. Jelzow et al, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Berlin), and the physiologic origin of task-evoked systemic artifacts in functional NIRS (E. Kirilina, Freie Universität Berlin).

Among the most interesting presentations of the Molecular Imaging Conference are a talk on sensing rare fluorescently labeled circulating cells in vivo (M.J. Niedre et al, Northeastern University, Boston); other highlights of this conference are focused on optoacoustic imaging of cancer receptors targeted by gold nanorod conjugates (A.A. Oraevsky, Tomo-Wave Labs and University of Houston), on structure and biomarkers in mice by multispectral optoacoustic tomography (A. Buehler et al, Technische Universität München); and on the use of plasmonic nanoparticles for molecular-specific cancer imaging in vivo (K.V. Sokolov et al, University of Texas at Austin).

The Novel Biophotonic Techniques and Applications Conference covers various techniques from diverse fields of biomedical optics. Top-ranked contributions include monitoring of cell death and ionic homeostasis with digital holographic microscopy (N. Pavillon et al, EPFL, Lausanne); in vivo evaluation of coronary plaques by intravascular laser speckle imaging (S.K. Nadkarni et al, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston); intravascular photoacoustic imaging of human coronary atherosclerosis (K. Jansen et al, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam); and Raman active phospholipid gold nanoparticles for lung cancer detection (N.C.M. Tam et al, University of Toronto).

Highly profiled talks in the Optical Coherence Tomography and Coherence Techniques Conference comprise novel Doppler OCT techniques (i) employing a two-beam technique for microvasculature imaging of the human retina (S. Zotter et al, Medical University of Vienna), and (ii) using a 1-μm center wavelength for imaging blood flow deep in the choroid (Y.J. Hong, University of Tsukuba, Japan); ultrahigh-speed retinal OCT beyond 1-MHz A-scan rate (T. Klein et al, Ludwig Maximilians Universität München); high-speed functional OCT with extended focal depth by using a Bessel beam (C. Blatter et al, Medical University of Vienna); simultaneous 800- and 1060-nm retinal OCT with retinal tracking (B. Povaay et al, Medical University of Vienna); and dark-field optical coherence microscopy for functional cell imaging (C. Pache et al, EPFL Lausanne).

Finally, some of the highlights of the Conference on Medical Laser Applications and Laser-Tissue Interactions are presentations on how gold nanorods illuminated by pulsed lasers can be used to modify or destroy cells (F. Rudnitzki et al, Universität zu Lübeck); and on novel infrared optical probes for detecting sentinel lymph nodes (F. Tellier et al, Université de Strasbourg/CNRS). In addition, several papers directly related to clinical laser applications, clinical aspects and results of clinical studies will be presented that should be of special interest to the medical community.

Students welcome

Although there is an impressive breadth of high-quality presentations scheduled, and the number of submissions to ECBO is still growing, ECBO is aware that it has to take measures to attract future generations of scientists to the field of biomedical optics. Therefore, we especially encourage students to attend ECBO. To underline the importance of participation by future generations of scientists, awards for outstanding contributions by students will be presented: the Toptica Best Student Paper Award and the Toptica Best Student Poster Award (€1000 each). Furthermore, student grants for attending the meeting will be sponsored by Thorlabs, OSA and SPIE. These awards and, of course, the excellent opportunities to see the latest scientific results and discuss and network with colleagues, will help to attract talented students to our field and secure a bright future for biomedical optics.

Meet the author

Christoph K. Hitzenberger is a professor and faculty member at the Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, and is co-chair of the European Conferences on Biomedical Optics; e-mail:

Advanced Microscopy Techniques IIAustriaBasic Sciencebiomedical imagingbiophotonicsBrian E. ApplegateChristoph K. HitzenbergerCLEO-EuropeClinical and Biomedical Spectroscopy and Imaging IIdiagnosticsDiffuse Optical Imaging IIIE-CLEOECBOEcole PolytechniqueEmmanuel BeaurepaireEOSEPSEuropeEuropean Conferences on Biomedical OpticsFeature ArticlesFeaturesFiorenzo OmenettoGermanyIEEE/LEOSimagingJim FujimotoLaser World of PhotonicslasersMary-Ann MycekMedical Laser Applications and Laser-Tissue Interactions Vmedical lasersMedical University of ViennaMicroscopyMITmolecular imagingMolecular Imaging IIINovel Biophotonic Techniques and ApplicationsOCToptical coherence tomographyOptical Coherence Tomography and Coherence Techniques VOSApulsed lasersSensors & DetectorsspectroscopySPIEStefan M. WitteTexas A&M UniversityThorlabsToptica Best Student Paper AwardToptica Best Student Poster AwardtreatmentTufts UniversityUniversity of MichiganVrije Universiteit AmsterdamWLTWolfgang Drexler

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