Wolfson Family Laboratory for Clinical and Biomedical Optics Research Overview



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When the scalp is illuminated with near-infrared light (~650-940 nm wavelength), photons can travel deeply in tissue via a diffusive process to reach the brain. Some of these photons then continue to travel diffusively back through the skull and scalp to escape the tissue. Diffuse optical methods detect these re-emerging photons to infer various optical properties of the brain. From these properties, quantitative assessments of cerebral blood flow, blood oxygen levels, and oxygen metabolism can be made.

The Wolfson Family Laboratory for Clinical and Biomedical Optics examines cerebral hemodynamic data in critical care patients and works with animal models to illuminate causes of neurologic injury. The lab team implements diffuse optical monitoring at the bedside to show clinical utility. They focus on numerous research challenges including:

  • Opto-mechanical and electro-optic design of instrumentation for real-time clinical measurements
  • Algorithm development to improve the fidelity of cerebral measurements
  • Data analysis (modeling, machine learning) to identify patterns in optical data predictive of outcome
  • Pre-clinical studies to demonstrate efficacy of optically-directed management of critical care
  • Clinical studies to identify prognostics and causes of brain injury

The lab aims to optimize hardware and software for accurate real-time measurements of cerebral hemodynamics with optical techniques. Design aspects include: rapid application of optical probe to the skin; minimal mechanical stress at the skin-probe interface; removal of motion artifacts in signal data, and removal of contamination from superficial tissues in the cerebral signals.

Current preclinical studies working with animal models examine various neurological parameters during pediatric conditions and interventions such as cardiac arrest, bypass, and ECMO. Preclinical efficacy studies of optically-guided resuscitation from cardiac arrest and optically-guided extracorporeal perfusion are underway.

Current clinical projects aim to show the ability of diffuse optics to diagnose adverse neurologic conditions (e.g., elevated intracranial pressure, ischemia,) and to use diffuse optics to study cerebral hemodynamics during different clinical interventions (e.g., neurosurgical shunt placement to treat hydrocephalus).