Research
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Research Areas
Imaging and Biophotonics

In BME at Northwestern University, research in imaging and biophotonics includes new technology development, image-based biophysical modeling of disease processes, the application of these techniques to address crucial problems in fundamental biology and human physiology, and translation into clinical applications and patient studies.

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Biophotonics

Biophotonics research focuses on the development of optical imaging and sensing technologies to study biomolecule, cell, and tissue structure and function at nanoscopic and microscopic scales. The goals are to improve both fundamental biomedical research and clinical patient care. Translational technologies developed by biophotonics faculty members include, for example, new far-field optical back-scattering spectroscopic imaging to analyze cellular nanoscale alterations in early carcinogenesis and cancer therapies, and new functional imaging to provide high resolution and high sensitivity for managing blinding diseases. Biophotonics faculty members also investigate a variety of fundamental biomedical questions, such as chromatin architecture remodeling in early cancers, intracellular single-molecule interactions, molecular pathways of hypoxia in diabetic eyes, and brain hemodynamic responses to strokes.

Medical Imaging

The direction of imaging research at Northwestern is driven by the aim to provide new insights into diseases process of the human body. The primary focus area is the development of novel Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) imaging technology and integration of advanced data analysis methodology. The goal is to improve diagnosis and therapy planning by developing novel and innovative imaging techniques for the evaluation of tissue morphology, body function, and physiologic processes throughout the human body. Access to five dedicated neuro, body, and high-field pre-clinical research MRI systems at the Center for Translational Imaging (CTI) in the Downtown Chicago campus, combined with strong interdisciplinary collaborations with physicians and scientists at the Feinberg School of Medicine, provide an ideal setting for the successful translation of novel advances in MRI acquisition and analyses. Faculty span BME, Radiology, and other departments across the medical school, bringing expertise in innovative pulse sequence and image reconstruction approaches, cardiac structure and hemodynamics, cerebrovascular function, signal processing in fMRI, advanced hardware development, guided brain stimulation techniques, pre-surgical mapping of brain activity, spinal cord imaging, image-guided cancer therapy, nanoparticles and targeted drug delivery, and machine learning.

In partnership with the Department of Radiology in the Feinberg School of Medicine, BME hosts an NIH-funded Graduate Training Program in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (TPMRI) to support pre-doctoral students in BME at Northwestern University. The objective is for students to obtain in-depth understanding of MR physics and engineering principles and clinical applications based on participation in innovative MR research with a specific emphasis on PhD-MD interactions to enable clinical translational research. The program provides dedicated resources to foster grant writing skills, clinical exposure via rotations, and specialized seminars, journal clubs, and workshops to develop competent scientists with the full range of professional skills and scientific insights needed to succeed in this rapidly expanding field of medical imaging.


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Cardiovascular

Credit: '4D Flow MRI' for the comprehensive assessment of cardiovascular hemodynamics (Michael Markl)

Research Topics

Cardiac MRI of heart tissue, function & perfusion • 4D flow imaging • highly accelerated AI based rapid MRI • atrial fibrillation • heart transplantation • congenital heart disease

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Drug Delivery and Discovery

Credit: Transcatheter arterial chemoembolization for hepatocellular carcinoma (DH Kim)

Research Topics

Nanoparticles • image guided cancer therapy • molecular imaging • super-resolution imaging • genome imaging • chromatin engineering • nanosensing • early cancer detection • drugs for epigenetic engineering

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Cancer

Credit: Image-guided Cancer Nanomedicine (DH Kim)

Research Topics

Image guided cancer therapy • molecular imaging • super-resolution imaging • genome imaging • chromatin engineering • nanosensing • early cancer detection • drugs for epigenetic engineering

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Vision and Sensory Systems

Credit: Visible-light OCT fibrography for quantitative imaging of retinal ganglion axon bundles (Hao Zhang)

Research Topics

Ocular imaging • drug delivery • glaucoma • macular degeneration • vision restoration • optical coherence tomography

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Rehabilitation

Credit: Averaged Time-Frequency plot for each source in the motor network for Hand Opening (Jun Yao and Julius Dewald)

Research Topics

Stroke • Parkinson’s disease • spinal cord injury • cerebral palsy • neural plasticity • motor control • cognition • robotics • exercise • hypoxia

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All Imaging and Biophotonics Faculty


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