An imaging technique developed at the Biophotonics Imaging Laboratory at the Beckman Institute was named one of the 10 best microscopy innovations of 2019 by Microscopy Today, the official magazine of the Microscopy Society of America.
Simultaneous label-free autofluorescence multi-harmonic (SLAM) microscopy is a new imaging technology developed by senior research scientist Haohua Tu, bioengineering graduate student Sixian You, and a team of researchers at the Biophotonics Imaging Laboratory, led by Dr. Stephen Boppart, a professor of bioengineering and of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois, and a medical doctor.
“With advances in microscopy techniques such as ours, we hope to change the way we detect, visualize and monitor diseases that will lead to better diagnosis, treatments and outcomes,” Boppart said.
The new microscope system can image living tissue in real time and in molecular detail, without any chemicals or dyes. It uses precisely tailored pulses of light to simultaneously image with multiple wavelengths. This enables the researchers to study concurrent processes within cells and tissue, and could give cancer researchers a new tool for tracking tumor progression and physicians new technology for tissue pathology and diagnostics.
The single-source, single-excitation configuration of SLAM microscopy also allows for straightforward clinical translation, and clinical studies already have been performed with a portable system to visualize the dynamic tumor microenvironment in freshly excised human breast tissue/tumor specimens imaged in the operating room. Ongoing research is developing ways to flexibly access deep tissue sites by a miniature (laparoscopic) optical system, or by a fiber-based endoscope.
Boppart also serves as the executive associate dean and chief diversity officer of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, and has affiliations with the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.
The Biophotonics Imaging Laboratory, established in 2000, has focused on developing novel optical imaging and sensing technologies, applying these to fundamental biological discovery, and translating them into clinical applications.
The award ceremony will be Aug. 7 at the Microscopy & Microanalysis 2019 meeting in Portland, Oregon.