NCIBT Symposium Laura Griff

College of Engineering faculty innovations spur creation of national center focused on optical imaging technologies

The NCIBT team is delighted and proud to be featured in the Fall 2022 issue of Engineering Progress magazine.

By Sarah Colwell

A new center that stands to transform surgical procedures and brain monitoring on a national scale using light-based, artificial intelligence-informed technologies is now part of UC Davis thanks to the efforts of an interdisciplinary team led by Laura Marcu, professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Marcu and team recently secured a $6.3 million P41 grant from NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering to create the National Center for Interventional Biophotonic Technologies (NCIBT). The NCIBT will advance two optical imaging technologies developed at UC Davisʼ College of Engineering — interventional fluorescence lifetime imaging, or iFLIM, and interferometric diffuse optical spectroscopy, or iDOS.

IFLIM, developed by Marcu’s lab, uses light measurements through a hand-held, penlike diagnostic probe in an open or endoscopic procedure to determine the tissues’ molecular constituents. This information helps determine the prevalence of healthy versus altered tissue.

IDOS, developed by Biomedical Engineering Adjunct Professor Vivek Srinivasan, uses similar, light-based optical imaging that is able to penetrate the scalp and skull to determine brain blood flow.

Both imaging technologies are noninvasive and measure fluctuations in light emanating from tissues — meaning how light is diffused or absorbed or emitted by the tissue or cells.

These technologies will be combined with an AI-deep learning platform to provide real-time guidance for decision-making during medical and surgical procedures. The center will support research and development, clinical application, and training and education of the new technologies and promote their adoption to improve the quality of interventional health care.

“We are developing a new technological paradigm for surgical and interventional medical decision-making,” said Marcu, who is founding director of the new center.

The goal is to provide clinicians with imaging information, data analysis, easily interpretable image presentations and decision-making support in real time during an operation or patient monitoring. This information will then help guide the clinician toward choices that will improve patient outcomes. Clinical applications of this technology include identification of tissue types during open or intravascular surgery and the measurement of brain blood flow in the intensive care unit or clinic.