Vanderbilt University researchers are teaming with peers from two other universities to develop ways to fight disease with light with the promise of minimally invasive, drug-free treatments for cardiac arrhythmia, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep apnea, diarrhea and other diseases.
They’re testing infrared neuromodulation, which targets specific areas of the nervous system and even single nerve cells with light that can stimulate or inhibit electrical signals, altering some bodily functions. Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the lead institution on the project, and funding is through a four-year, $9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.
“The potential impact is revolutionary and disruptive,” said E. Duco Jansen, professor of biomedical engineering at Vanderbilt. “We have a lot of engineering, physics and biology work to do before we’re there, and that’s why we’re getting this level of funding… Continue reading.
On July 24 Vanderbilt scientist Eric Skaar, Ph.D., MPH, summarized his group’s latest paper in a tweet: “If S. aureus is going to drink our blood like a vampire, let’s kill it with sunlight.”
“That thing has been retweeted so many times,” said Skaar, the Ernest W. Goodpasture Professor of Pathology in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “It’s one of the most popular tweets I’ve ever put out about our research.”
No wonder. Staphylococcus aureus (staph) is the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections. Antibiotic-resistant strains of the bug, like MRSA, can kill.
Staph needs iron to grow. “It breaks open the blood cells and grabs the hemoglobin and pulls the iron out,” Skaar said. Other Gram-positive pathogens probably do the same thing. “But the S. aureus systems are by far the most well studied,” he said.
The researchers are now working with E. Duco Jansen, Ph.D., professor of Biomedical Engineering, and the Vanderbilt Biophotonics Center in the School of Engineering to develop technologies that can deliver light to sites of infection… Continue reading.
E. Duco Jansen will receive the Caroline and William Mark Memorial Award in April at the 35th annual conference of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.
Jansen, associate dean for graduate studies in the School of Engineering and professor of biomedical engineering and neurological surgery, was selected for his outstanding contributions to laser technology, his distinguished research career and its impact on the field of laser surgery.
Jansen will deliver the award lecture. His address is titled “Lessons from 25 years of laser-tissue interaction studies: A tale of photons, bubbles and neurons.”
“The Caroline and William Mark Award is actually quite a prestigious award in the ASLMS and the laser-medicine world. It came as a surprise since I didn’t know I was nominated,” Jansen said.
“I’m humbled and honored to receive it, in particular given the list of previous recipients that reads as a ‘who’s who’ in the field over the past 30-plus years. Many of these people I looked up to early in my career, people like Leon Goldman (the ‘father of laser medicine’) and my doctoral and master’s advisers A.J. Welch and Martin van Gemert, and many others.”
Jansen is a core faculty member of the newly announced Biophotonics Center at Vanderbilt, which will focus on cancer photonics, neurophotonics and nano-biophotonics. His research focuses on optical neural interfaces, mechanisms of pulsed laser ablation of biological tissue, and cellular and biochemical responses of biological tissue to laser radiation. He has published more than 100 scholarly articles and book chapters in addition to 250 conference abstracts and proceedings.