The goal of the Biophotonics program is to explore the research frontiers in photonics principles, engineering and technology that are relevant for critical problems in fields of medicine, biology and biotechnology. Fundamental engineering research and innovation in photonics is required to lay the foundations for new technologies beyond those that are mature and ready for application in medical diagnostics and therapies. Advances are needed in nanophotonics, optogenetics, contrast and targeting agents, ultra-thin probes, wide field imaging, and rapid biomarker screening. Low cost and minimally invasive medical diagnostics and therapies are key motivating application goals.
Research topics in this program include:
- Macromolecule Markers: Innovative methods for labeling of macromolecules. Novel compositions of matter. Methods of fabrication of multicolor probes that could be used for marking and detection of specific pathological cells. Pushing the envelope of optical sensing to the limits of detection, resolution, and identification.
- Low Coherence Sensing at the Nanoscale: Low coherence enhanced backscattering (LEBS). N-dimensional elastic light scattering. Angle-resolved low coherence interferometry for early cancer detection (dysplasia).
- Neurophotonics: Studies of photon activation of neurons at the interface of nanomaterials attached to cells. Development and application of biocompatible photonic tools such as parallel interfaces and interconnects for communicating and control of neural networks.
- Micro- & Nano-photonics: Development and application of novel nanoparticle fluorescent quantum-dots. Sensitive, multiplexed, high-throughput characterization of macromolecular properties of cells. Nanomaterials and nanodevices for biomedicine.
- Optogenetics: Novel research in employing light-activated channels and enzymes for manipulation of neural activity with temporal precision. Utilizing nanophotonics, nanofibers, and genetic techniques for mapping and studying in real-time physiological processes in organs such as the brain and heart.
Innovative proposals outside of these specific interest areas may be considered. However, prior to submission, it is recommended that the PI contact the Program Director to avoid the possibility of the proposal being returned without review.
The duration of unsolicited awards is generally one to three years. The typical award size for the program is around $100,000 per year for individual investigators and $200,000 per year for multiple investigators. Proposals requesting a substantially higher amount than this, without prior consultation with the Program Director, may be returned without review.
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