Imaging Technology Image
Spatial light interference microscopy of a cell enables label-free phase-based imaging without the addition of perturbative dyes or stains. Image courtesy of the Quantitative Light Imaging Laboratory and the Center for Label-free Imaging and Multi-scale Biophotonics, or CLIMB. (Credit: Beckman Institute)

A new national collaborative — Biomedical Technology Research Resource — will develop label-free optical imaging technologies for medical and biological applications. Researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will use funding from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the National Institutes of Health to establish the center.

Development of the Center for Label-free Imaging and Multi-scale Biophotonics, known as CLIMB, was a joint effort between Stephen Boppart, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and bioengineering; Mark Anastasio, a professor of bioengineering; Rohit Bhargava, a professor of bioengineering; and the late Gabriel Popescu, who was a professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The center’s primary goal is to create optical and computational imaging technologies that can serve as a resource for clinicians as well as other investigators in the biological and medical sciences.

Label-free imaging of a cellSpatial light interference microscopy of a cell enables label-free phase-based imaging without the addition of perturbative dyes or stains. Image courtesy of the Quantitative Light Imaging Laboratory and the Center for Label-free Imaging and Multi-scale Biophotonics, or CLIMB.

One of those benefits is that technologies developed for label-free microscopy can immediately be incorporated into human studies, allowing researchers to efficiently demonstrate their clinical applications. This is an advantage over the dyes, stains, or optical probes used in traditional imaging applications, which are considered drugs that must be FDA-approved prior to use with human patients.

The center's three major technology research and development projects include qualitative phase imaging, in vivo clinical imaging, and artificial intelligence. The launch phase of the program will focus on raising visibility for the center as a resource, organizing research collaborations, and initiating new training for graduate students.

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