FIP Seminar: Translating Photoacoustic Imaging into (Pre)Clinical Impacts

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Wed, 10/31/2018 - 12:00 to 13:00

Dr. Junjie Yao


Dr. Junjie Yao, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University

By physically combining electromagnetic and ultrasonic waves, photoacoustic imaging (PAI) has proven powerful for multi-scale anatomical, functional, and molecular imaging. In PAI, a short-pulsed laser beam illuminates the biological tissue to generate a small but rapid temperature rise, which leads to emission of ultrasonic waves due to thermoelastic expansion. The high-frequency ultrasonic waves are detected outside the tissue by an ultrasonic transducer to form an image that maps the original optical energy deposition in the tissue. PAI combines the rich optical absorption contrast of biological tissue with the high optically- or acoustically-determined spatial resolutions. My talk will focus on our recent advances of PAI at Duke since 2017, on exciting new fronts that have moved the technical innovations towards impacts in fundamental research and clinical practice. First, we have developed PAI technology that has broken the penetration limit of photons and achieved super-penetration (~16 cm) imaging, by delivering light through endoscopic channels. We have extended PAI’s applications to clinically relevant depths, such as monitoring the vascular damage induced by shock-wave treatments of kidney stones. Second, by using novel miniaturized scanning and acoustic detection methods, we have developed a series of mini-PAI systems that allows for handheld, wearable or head-mount applications, including high-throughput drug screening, imaging-guided skin biopsy, and free-moving mouse brain imaging. Third, taking advantage of newly developed near-infrared molecular probes, which can be functionalized to target deep-seated tumors or sense tumor microenvironment, we have applied PAI in various molecular cancer studies on the small animal models, with substantial enhancement in detection sensitivity and functionality.

Junjie Yao is currently Assistant Professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University, and a faculty member of Duke Center for In Vivo Microscopy, Duke Cancer Institute, Duke Institute of Brain Sciences, and Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics. Dr. Yao received his B.E. (2006) and M.E. (2008) degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Tsinghua University, Beijing, and his Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Engineering at Washington University (2013), St. Louis. He serves on the editorial board in Scientific Reports, Quantitative Imaging in Medicine and Surgery, and Near-infrared and Laser Engineering. Dr. Yao’s research interest is in photoacoustic tomography (PAT) technologies in life sciences, especially in functional brain imaging, interventional imaging guidance, and early cancer detection.