UC Davis and IPHT Partner in Biophotonics

Jürgen Popp coordinates the Jedis alliance at Leibniz IPHT. (Source: S. Döring, IPHT)

Biophotonics is a growing, multidisciplinary research field that uses light-based technologies to answer medical and life science issues. The technologies include modern microscopy, spectroscopy and the use of light as a tool in the form of lasers, with applications ranging from cell biology to surgery. Biophotonics is a scientific discipline of great social importance, which could help scientists and medical care providers overcome current challenges of an aging society, pandemics and highly strained health systems.

Development of these advanced and precise solutions requires a strong network of international scientists from different disciplines, as well as constructive and goal-oriented collaboration of clinical staff and technology developers. The partnership between the German Leibniz Institute for Photonic Technologies and the University of California, Davis, will build on joint research work in the field of biophotonics, in particular using different spectroscopic methods for tissue imaging in clinical diagnostics. The Jena-Davis-Alliance of Excellence in Biophotonics “Jedis” initiative aims to accelerate this promising scientific collaboration in research and education.

Combining expertise at UC Davis and Leibniz IPHT will allow the scientists to develop new tools for tumor margin detection as well as for staging and grading tumors; the image shows larynx cancer. (Source: Leibniz IPHT / JenaPhotonics)

“The focus of our future research is on cancer diagnostics. Combining expertise at UC Davis in fluorescence lifetime imaging and expertise at Leibniz IPHT in Raman-spectroscopy, will allow us to develop new tools for tumor margin detection as well as for staging and grading tumors. The fast and label-free techniques provide complementary information about morphological and chemical composition of tissue. Integrated in microscopes or micro-endoscopes, we hope to apply these biophotonic methods for tumor identification already during surgery,” explains Prof. Jürgen Popp, coordinator of the project and scientific director at Leibniz IPHT.

Events in the three-year € 240,000 ($ 280,000) Jedis award include scientific conferences in Davis and Jena, a sustainable exchange program and two first-class summer schools. Prof. Laura Marcu, who is coordinating the project at UC Davis, emphasizes the importance of scientific exchange: “By establishing tandem activities between institutions in Germany and North America, we aim at promoting an exchange of views and dialogue at the interface of biophotonic science, innovation and societal benefit. This is urgently needed to tackle current and future global challenges in medicine and life science. To strengthen this exchange, we will also establish a joint research laboratory at UC Davis (Biomedical Engineering and Comprehensive Cancer Center) to bring in competencies in Raman-spectroscopy for clinical diagnostics.”

Laura Marcu – Professor Biomedical Engineering and Julien Bec – Development Engineer (Source: UCD)

The ongoing research work of the institutions involved is accompanied by three colloquia with international experts from research and practice. The joint research results, published in a number of publications, are presented at two conferences in Jena and Davis and discussed with representatives from research and practice. The measures are intended to give new stimulus to this promising transatlantic relationship.

The Jedis project will officially start with a kick-off meeting in San Francisco at the end of January 2018. The first scientific event, a summer school with the topic Clinical Biophotonics, will take place in September 2018 at Leibniz IPHT in Jena. The project is funded by the European Recovery Program, of which it is purpose to keep the memory of George C. Marshall alive and foster transatlantic partnership in line with his wishes. (Source: IPHT / UC Davis)

Links: Leibniz Institute for Photonic Technologies IPHT, Jena, Germany • Optical Spectroscopy and Ultrasound for disease diagnosis, University of California, Davis, CA, USA

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