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Biomedical Imaging and Instrumentation

Biomedical Imaging and Instrumentation

Pioneering the development of imaging technologies and instruments, from simple Point-of-Care devices to sophisticated new microscopes that detect and uncover mechanisms of disease.

The pioneering work of determining the biological mechanisms of disease and the lifesaving work of diagnosing and treating medical problems rely on sophisticated imaging techniques developed by engineers. At Cornell, collaborations among engineers, physical scientists, life scientists, and clinicians provide superb opportunities to create and improve these tools.

Faculty members focus on time-resolved and spectrally-resolved measurement and visualization of biological structures across scales, with spatial scales ranging from macromolecular complexes to cells to whole organisms, temporal scales ranging from milliseconds to years, and spectral scales ranging from megahertz radiofrequency waves to exahertz x-rays. A wide range of imaging modalities and methods for achieving contrast are developed and used, including optical imaging, MRI, and CT. Cornell is known for pioneering development and application of nonlinear optical imaging techniques for in vivo imaging. Cornell researchers are also inventing new image analysis methods and novel contrast agents for clinical and research use. BME faculty apply these imaging tools to a diverse set of human health problems including neurodegenerative disease, cancer, and congenital heart disease. Biomedical imaging is also tightly interconnected with other areas of BME, providing in vitro and in vivo tools to evaluate biomaterials, validate systems biology models, monitor drug delivery, and map biomechanical properties.

Research interests of the biomedical imaging faculty:
Prof. Steven Adie’s lab develops optical coherence tomography (OCT)-based methods for the study of cellular and tissue-scale collective cell behavior in diseases such as cancer. His group leverages physics-based computed imaging techniques to enable high-throughput volumetric OCT with cellular resolution. The group also develops methods for high-resolution imaging of soft tissue biomechanics. These techniques are utilized to study the important role of biophysical (e.g. mechanical) factors in normal biological processes and disease, both in vitro and in vivo.

In Prof. Jonathan Butcher’s lab, multiple different imaging modalities are applied to the study of embryonic morphogenesis, the dynamics of cardiac function, as well as small animal models of congenital and acquired cardiac disease. His lab uses multiphoton microscopy, high frequency ultrasound and micro-CT to investigate cardiac structure-function dynamics in living embryonic and adult model animals.

Prof. Peter Doerschuk’s group develops quantitative image analysis algorithms that are used for a diverse set of imaging problems, including determining virus structure from electron microscopy and inferring the state of the brain’s neurovascular system from optical images.

Prof. Nozomi Nishimura’s lab is interested in understanding how inflammation, blood flow and cell death are linked in several different diseases. The strategy is to develop novel tools such as multiphoton microscopy to image the contribution of multiple physiological systems to diseases with in vivo animal models. The lab uses these new vivo optical imaging developments in mouse models to study the diversity of cellular phenotypes and structures in a whole, living organism. Targeted applications include heart disease, neurodegeneration and stem cells in the intestine.

In Prof. Chris Schaffer’s lab, light is used not only to visualize biological systems, but also for targeted ablation and manipulation. For example, using extremely short laser pulses, Schaffer’s lab causes localized injuries to individual blood vessels in the brains of rodents, triggering a small stroke. These targeted microstrokes allow the lab to study the role of microvascular lesions in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer ’s disease.

Prof. Yi Wang holds a joint appointment with Radiology at Weill Cornell Medical College and is the co-director of the Cornell MRI facility in Ithaca, which is equipped with a state-of-the-art GE 3 Tesla imager. His research interest is in developing biomedical imaging methods using tools from computer science, electronic engineering, mathematics, and physics and using knowledge in biology, chemistry, life science and medicine. His laboratory is known for pioneering quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM), superresolution 4D imaging in MRI, multi-scale functional imaging - concurrent multi photon microscopy and MRI, and simultaneous neuromodulation and imaging. His group is closely working with clinicians on various diseases including heart diseases, Parkinson’s diseases, multiple sclerosis, and liver and prostate cancer.

Prof. Warren Zipfel’s lab focuses on the development and application of novel methods of fluorescence microscopy and bioanalytical techniques. He was involved in the early development and commercialization of multiphoton microcopy at Cornell and continues to apply multiphoton, as well as confocal and super-resolution microscopies in a variety of research areas ranging from transcriptional regulation and 3D nuclear structure to cancer biology. Prof. Zipfel serves as the Faculty Advisor to Cornell’s BRC Imaging Facility and is the Director of the Cornell Stem Cell Optical Imaging Core.

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