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2013 Student Research Grant Recipients

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Yasaman Damestani, B.S.

University of California

Riverside, CA

Supporting ASLMS Member

Guillermo Aguilar, Ph.D.

“Transparent Cranial Implant for Laser Based Therapy and Imaging of Brain ”

The long-range goal of the Windows to the Brain (WttB) is to improve patient care by providing a technique for delivery and/or collection of light from the brain, on demand, over large areas, and on a chronically-recurring basis without the need for repeated craniotomies. WttB holds the transformative potential for enhancing the light based diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of brain pathologies including cerebral edema, traumatic brain injury, stroke, glioma, and neurodegenerative diseases. The proposed study seeks to have a direct and timely implication for improving patient care through replacement of the skull in regions of interest with an optically-transparent yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) cranial implant. Waveguide-like structures (WG) will be written within the implants using an ultra-low fluence femtosecond laser.

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Wesley J. Moy

University of California

Irvine, CA

Supporting ASLMS Member

Bernard Choi, Ph.D.

“Depth of Vascular Shutdown Achieved with Photodynamic Therapy”

The objective of the proposed project is to determine how treatment parameters affect the maximum depth of blood vessel injury and shutdown of blood flow, within a preclinical rat model. We currently are evaluating the effectiveness of a novel light-based treatment, known as photodynamic therapy (PDT), designed to induce selective shutdown of blood vessels. We expect that PDT will improve upon the current treatment approaches currently used by clinicians
to remove vascular cutaneous birthmarks from patients.

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Alexandra Jule Walsh, B.E., M.S.

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN

Supporting ASLMS Member

E. Duco Jansen, Ph.D.

“Optical Metabolic Imaging of Organoid Cultures Derived from Frozen Tissues to Predict Drug Response ”

Targeted cancer drugs shrink tumors by modulating cellular protein expression and signaling. However, many patients do not initially respond to these therapies. Clinically, treatment response is measured by tumor size reduction, and ineffective therapies are not identified until weeks after treatment. Sub-populations of cells can resist therapy and lead to relapse later in life. Treatment regimens for unresponsive tumors include more aggressive surgical intervention and experimental therapeutics, such as PI3K and ErbB3 inhibitors. The OMI-organoid system utilizes optical metabolic imaging to interrogate the metabolic shifts induced by drug treatment in primary tumor derived organoid cultures. This technology has the potential to revolutionize patient care by predicting therapeutic response to multiple drugs and drug combinations, rather than relying on retrospective analysis of the administered drug. Organoids derived from frozen tissues would greatly accelerate development of this technology and allow translation to situations where fresh tissues are not feasible.

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Weston A. Welge, B.A., B.S., M.S.

University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ

Supporting ASLMS Member

Jennifer K. Barton, Ph.D.

“Mild Temperature Hyperthermia Inducing Doppler Optical Coherence Tomography Endoscope for Early Detection of Colorectal Cancer in a Mouse Model ”

The MTH-inducing Doppler OCT system may allow for earlier colon cancer detection than other perfusion-detecting systems (ultrasound, perfusion CT) due to its high spatial resolution. OCT is also an effective tool for detecting morphological changes in the early stages of colon tumor growth. The proposed Doppler OCT system is capable of imaging the entire colon surface, which is not possible in standard colonoscopies that rely on analyzing biopsied tissues that represent only a small percentage of the colon surface area. Also, as measurements of perfusion are proportional to oxygen uptake in tumors, this system could also be used to monitor radiation and chemotherapy progress.


The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery is the world’s largest scientific organization dedicated to promoting research, education and high standards of clinical care in the field of medical laser applications. It provides a forum for the exchange of scientific information and participation in communicating the latest developments in laser medicine and surgery to clinicians, research investigators, government and regulatory agencies, and the public.

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