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Where Light Science Gets Personal

Mar 2014
Karen A. Newman, Group Publisher,

Advances in light science or technology cross my desk almost daily in press releases describing potential applications ranging from aerospace to telecommunications. They’re all very interesting, and many of them make me wonder how and when I’ll see these advances for myself. But I find that I am often most intrigued by the biophotonics applications, and I think it’s because those have the potential to one day directly affect my health and well-being – very unique and personal aspects of living.

A Translational Research virtual symposium debuted this year at SPIE Photonics West, featuring photonic tools and techniques created to meet challenges in global health care. Presided over by Dr. Bruce Tromberg, director of the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic at the University of California, Irvine, the inaugural program included a special focus on outcome-based studies with potential for adoption in clinical practice in the near term.

The program, designed to facilitate the translation of biophotonics research into clinical practice, included approximately 200 papers selected from SPIE BiOS. The papers demonstrated solutions for diagnosis, assessment and treatment of cancer, heart disease and neurological disease.

The lunchtime forum gave members of the medical community, device makers and biophotonics researchers the opportunity to discuss adaptation trends, application opportunities, clinical needs and other issues in moving technology from the lab to the clinic.

I attended that session, which included talks by winners of the Translational Research Best Paper Awards. Speakers and their topics were: Michalina J. Gora of Harvard Medical School, whose talk was titled “Tethered capsule OCT endomicroscopy”; Daniel V. Palanker of Stanford University, who spoke about “Non-damaging laser therapy of the macula: titration algorithm and tissue response”; The-Quyen Nguyen of Vanderbilt University, who presented a “Device for 3D, real-time, and intraoperative evaluation of surgical margin status”; and Ji-Xin Cheng of Purdue University, who showed how “Spectroscopic imaging unveils the essential role of cholesterol accumulation in cancer proliferation.”

A lot of smart, committed people are working to move the many promises of light-based technologies quickly from research to the hands of clinicians who can put it to good use. As the years unfold, people everywhere will begin to see medical care in a whole new light.

Technology advances drive the Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation, and at the gala ceremony during Photonics West, SPIE and Photonics Media handed out awards in several categories relevant to the life sciences, including Detectors, Sensing, Imaging and Cameras, and Scientific Lasers, as well as Life Sciences and Biophotonics. Discover the winners beginning on page 16, with complete coverage at

Enjoy the issue.

AmericasBeckman Laser Institute and Medical ClinicBiophotonicsBruce TrombergCaliforniacamerasEditorialhealthcareimagingJi-Xin ChengKaren A. Newmanlight scienceMichalina J. GoraMicroscopyspectroscopySPIE BiOSSPIE Photonics WestUniversity of California IrvineTranslationa Research symposiumDaniel V. PalankerThe-Quyen Nguyenlasers

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