BME PhD Prospectus Defense - Bobby Liu

10:00 am on Tuesday, January 22, 2013
12:00 pm on Tuesday, January 22, 2013
44 Cummington St, Room 203
Committee Members:
Professor Irving Bigio, BME, ECE
Professor Shyamsunder Erramilli, Physics
Professor Michael Smith, BME
Professor David Waxman, Biology
Professor Muhamman Zaman, BME

Title: "Elastic Scattering Spectroscopy Methods for Detecting and Monitoring Apoptosis in 3D cell Cultures and in Small-Animal Tumor Models"

Apoptosis, a type of programmed cell death, is often down-regulated by the development of cancer. Massive apoptosis activity is, therefore, often the result of successful anti-cancer treatments. Measurement of apoptotic activity is thus currently a primary method for evaluation of cancer drug efficacy with cell cultures in vitro, but current methods are non-quantitative and require either physical disruption of the cell culture and/or addition of exogenous agents. Earlier work in our group resulted in the development and validation of an optical detection method using elastic scattering spectroscopy (ESS) that allows for quantitative assessment of apoptotic activity in mammalian cell cultures; the method provides readings in near real-time and does not require disruption of the culture. The next steps, and the focus of this project, will be to extend this research into three-dimensional cultures, to be followed by in-vivo measurements on small-animal tumor models. For modeling the optical geometry and sensing volumes we will use GPU-accelerated Monte Carlo-based simulations to refine probe and culture designs, and to help to understand the biological basis of the ESS signatures. The goal is to bridge the gap between in vitro and in vivo apoptosis detection with the motivation of monitoring early response to anti-cancer treatment.