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Irene Georgakoudi

Research efforts in my laboratory focus on the development of novel optical methods for "looking" at cells and tissues so that we can understand better the basic processes involved in disease progression and regression and improve the ways we use to detect and treat human disease. Optical spectroscopic imaging techniques offer an ideal tool for understanding how different biological units are brought together and communicate as they determine our state of health or disease. Their main advantage stems from their non-invasive nature, which allows us to examine cells and tissues in their native state, without interfering in important biochemical functions and without disturbing the dynamic interactions between different units of a cell or an organ. Using a combination of methods, such as fluorescence and light scattering, we can acquire information on biochemistry, morphology and structure. Our approach involves the development of new instrumentation and model-based data analysis methods which allow us to study specific biomedical problems. One exciting aspect of this work is that it is relatively straightforward to transfer the knowledge we gain from the lab to the clinic, since our techniques are based on the characterization of intrinsic sources of optical contrast (i.e. they do not rely on the administration of exogenous chromophores) and we use safe levels of irradiation.