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Bio-optics breakthroughs: Highlights of medical and bioscience research at Frontiers in Optics 2009

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29From scopes that help premature babies breathe to techniques for imaging live neurons and beating hearts as they develop, the latest optical and laser technology being deployed in medicine and the biosciences will be on display at the Optical Society's (OSA) Annual Meeting, Frontiers in Optics (FiO), which takes place Oct. 11-15 at the Fairmont San Jose Hotel and the Sainte Claire Hotel in San Jose, Calif.

Information on free registration for reporters is contained at the end of this release. Bio-optics research highlights of the meeting include:

  • Live Imaging of a Developing Heart
  • New Scope to Help Premature Babies Breathe Easier
  • Microfine Surgery with Powerful Laser Pulses
  • Digital Camera Sees a Sharper Mind
  • Following Single Molecules in Live Neurons
  • Watching Proteins Fold


Approximately one of every 100 babies born in the United States each year comes into the world with a heart defect. Though there is a long history of understanding cardiovascular development and diseases, says Kirill Larin of the University of Houston, very little is known about the dynamics of the normal and abnormal embryonic heart.

Half a century ago, Richard Feynman said that one of the easiest ways to understand a fundamental biological process is to "just look at the thing," and for a highly complicated process like embryonic heart development and dynamics, he may be right. Being able to watch a young heart begin to beat and form chambers would show scientists a lot -- perhaps even revealing the developmental causes of heart abnormalities and other birth defects. But looking at a developing embryo in its womb is easier said than done. Fluorescence microscopes lack the ability to penetrate the skin deeply enough to image an embryo. Medical ultrasound devices can penetrate fully, but they lack the resolution necessary to reveal the detail

Contact: Angela Stark
Optical Society of America

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