What is the Laboratory for Biooptics and Molecular Imaging (LBMI)?
The main direction of the laboratory is the development of novel optical imaging and spectral techniques that allow non-invasive or minimally invasively interrogations of function and gene-expression in tissues. Furthermore we offer core imaging support for optical imaging and image analysis applications. The laboratory is an integral part of the Center for Molecular Imaging Research (CMIR) and has established collaborations with faculty in the Center and elsewhere.
Our particular focus is the development of tomographic techniques for fluorescence imaging in whole tissues, intact animals and organs. This technology, when combined with appropriate fluorescent markers and probes can enable molecular probing of disease and function and elucidate expression patterns in vivo. It is expected that fluorescence molecular imaging will enable detection and characterization of disease states even before anatomic changes become apparent. It could also revolutionarize drug discovery and development by real-time in-vivo monitoring of drug effects at the molecular level in intact tissues.
To support our goals we have put forth several key focus areas that enable us to move forward in all aspects of this multi-disciplinary research. Our key ongoing projects are as follows:
Optical instrumentation and hardware development is an essential part of our effort. Currently we have completed the development of two Fluorescence Molecular Tomography systems (FMT) with different performance characteristics for imaging of activatable probes and of fluorescent proteins using constant wave illumination sources. We have further implemented a combined real-time reflectance and FMT imaging system and we have undertaken the development of an FMT system operating in the time domain. Furthermore we have constructed a time-resolved spectrometer for measurements of optical properties in diffuse media and we have developed a highly sensitive planar imaging system for bioluminescence imaging.
We research time-efficient forward and inversion schemes for fluorescence molecular tomography (FMT) and diffuse optical tomography (DOT) and spectroscopy using solutions of the diffusion equation. We also consider solutions of the transport equation for specific applications. Furthermore we optimize different forward models for the different optical imaging and spectroscopy systems developed. An important other topic we consider is the development of appropriate methods for optimization of the information content of the various measurements performed.
Data and image processing and rendering
Our effort in data and image processing supports the optical instrumentation and theoretical developments for basic and advanced data pre-processing and filtering. We further develop methodologies for pattern recognition and image registration associated with the various imaging modalities developed and used. Our work with data visualization is associated with rendering of three-dimensional structures and the merging of reconstructed or raw images obtained with different imaging modalities such as FMT, planar imaging and MRI.
Our efforts for in-vivo imaging span a large area of different applications. We have our own core for development and supply of basic animal models, especially tumor models of different cell lines. We further perform basic surgery and microscopic and molecular analysis of excised tissues that aids mainly in imaging method validation and performance testing with in-vivo samples. However a major strength is the collaboration with several investigators who have exciting biological questions, animal models and protocols. Examples of current applications include imaging of enzyme expression patterns in various tumor cell lines, imaging of apoptosis or imaging of gene expression associated with viral transfection.