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Inside BIGSS 2014, Part 1: Hot topics, trends, and the future of biophotonics

Editor’s note: Guest blogger Khushi Vyas, Outreach Coordinator for the SPIE Student Chapter at Imperial College London, was among students at the biophotonics and imaging graduate summer school 15-20 June at the National Biophotonics Imaging Platform Ireland (NBIPI), National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway. The first of two posts filed by Khushi describes the topics and trends discussed during the school.

BIGSS participants enjoyed an energizing week in Galway.
The recent fifth annual Biophotonics and Imaging Graduate Summer School (BIGSS) offered a great platform for multidisciplinary learning in biophotonics and fostered communication across several disciplines. Students went home with new ideas, streamlined directions for research, new contacts, and the motivation to contribute towards finding solutions for unmet clinical needs.

Participants included approximately 50 graduate students and early-career professionals and seven distinguished guest speakers working in diverse fields of engineering and imaging physics.

BIGSS chair
Martin Leahy
School organizers invite a different panel each year to share their knowledge, perspectives, and vision on the hot topics and future trends in biophotonics, noted Professor Martin Leahy, the chairperson for BIGSS 2014 and Scientific Director of NBIPI.

Tracks included:
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Superresolution microscopy
  • Tissue optics and light-tissue interactions
  • Optogenetics
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Ultrasound-guided photoacoustic imaging
  • In vivo three-photon microscopy.
Each of the guest speakers covered seminal developments in manifold disciplines of biophotonics and presented a plethora of applications for 3D clinical imaging in vivo.

The trending topics of fluorescence lifetime imaging and multidimensional fluorescence imaging and their many applications towards in vivo and in vitro molecular imaging were discussed by Professor Paul French (Imperial College London).

Professor Rainer Heintzmann (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena) updated the audience with technological milestones achieved to advance from conventional microscopic imaging towards super resolution microscopy and highlighted the challenges that still persist in the field.

Professor Steve Jacques (Oregon Health and Sciences University) talked about the compelling research opportunities to assess and monitor nanoarchitecture of cells by developing novel microscope systems and use the information for therapy and diagnosis.

The new and very fast-growing field of optogenetics was discussed by Professor Samar Mohanty (University of Texas, Arlington) who threw light on his contributions towards optogenetic interventions of neural disorders.

Discussions by Professor Johannes de Boer (Vrie Universiteit Amsterdam) and Professor Stanislav Emelianov (University of Texas, Austin) on recent developments in optical coherence tomography and ultrasound-guided photoacoustic imaging respectively as a clinical imaging tool were also very well received by the attendees.

Professor Chris Xu (Cornell University) concluded the BIGSS guest lecture series by his talk on in vivo three-photon and four-photon microscopy and how this technology could pave the way for breakthroughs in neuroscience and clinical imaging.

When the exciting week drew to an end, participants were polled on potential themes for next year’s BIGSS program, and nanophotonics, photonic therapeutics, and optogenetics shone as popular choices amongst the attendees. Professor Leahy commented on the growing interest in developing ultrasound-guided photoacoustic imaging reconstruction tomography as a clinical tool, saying that he envisions it to be a much-talked-about topic in the near future.

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