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Optics and the Brain

14 April 2019 – 17 April 2019 Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, Tucson, Arizona United States

Optics offers a unique toolkit for multiscale imaging and manipulating the living and intact brain. New strategies provide optical measures of neural function and tools such as optogenetics enables the control of cellular function with light. Novel methods also enable unraveling the molecular, genetic, structural and connective properties of the nervous system from super-resolution to whole organism scales.  

By bringing together an international group of leading engineers, optical and medical scientists, biologists, chemists, neuroscientists and physicians, the meeting reflects this topic’s highly interdisciplinary area of research. This conference will bring together researchers working in all aspects of optics in the brain in both model systems and humans and will serve as a forum for discussion of existing and emerging techniques as well as future directions capable of shedding new light on the healthy and diseased brain.


  • Optical hemodynamic imaging and neuro-vascular interactions
  • Hybrid and multimodal approaches to neuroimaging
  • Novel reporters and actuators, optogenetics, bioluminescence
  • Mesoscopic, microscopic, and endoscopic imaging of neural structure and function
  • Light shaping in the brain, holography
  • Tissue scattering, clearing and de-scattering
  • Superresolution microscopy and nanoscopy of the nervous system
  • Data analysis, machine learning, and image processing
  • Closed loop optical neural interfaces
  • Analyzing circuitry, network function, and information processing
  • Optics and brain disease
  • Dissemination and commercialization of BRAIN technologies



  • Daniel Aharoni, University of California Los AngelesUnited States 
    Developing new tools for image network dynamics in freely behaving animals
  • Michal Balberg, Holon Institute of TechnologyIsrael 
    Acousto optics for cerebral blood flow monitoring
  • Gemma Bale, University College LondonUnited Kingdom 
    Monitoring Metabolism with Broadband Near-Infrared Spectroscopy
  • Pablo Blinder, Tel Aviv UniversityIsrael 
    Pysight: a fully asynchronous, photon-counting-based solution for fast multi-photon volumetric imaging
  • David Boas, Boston UniversityUnited States 
    Improving Stroke Outcome – OCT Reveals a New Therapeutic Target
  • Robert Campbell, University of AlbertaCanada 
    Genetically-encoded near-infrared neural activity indicators
  • Jerry Chen, Boston UniversityUnited States 
    Multi-area two-photon imaging for investigating long-range cortical networks
  • Hod Dana, Cleveland Clinic FoundationUnited States 
    High-performance genetically-encoded calcium indicators for microscopic and macroscopic recording of neuronal activity
  • Anna Devor, University of California San DiegoUnited States 
    Neuronal activity and neuroenergetics with and without cerebral blood flow
  • Emily Gibson, University of Colorado at BoulderUnited States 
    Multiphoton microscopy and optogenetics in freely moving animals for neuroscience research
  • Frederic Lesage, Ecole PolytechniqueCanada 
    Integrated CMOS TD-NIRS from 1.5D interposer technology to integrated detectors
  • Timothy Murphy, University of British Columbia 
    High-throughput electrophysiological, behavioral, or social event triggered imaging of mouse mesoscale brain activity
  • Daniel Palanker, Stanford UniversityUnited States 
    Wide-field interferometric imaging of action potentials
  • Luke Theogarajan, University of California Santa BarbaraUnited States 
    A Genetically Encoded Autonomous Bioluminescent Voltage Indicator
  • Lin Tian, University of California DavisUnited States 
    High-resolution imaging of neuromodulator dynamics with genetically encoded indicators



Nozomi Nishimura, Cornell University, United States , Chair
Shy Shoham, NYU Langone Health, United States , Chair
Maria Angela Franceschini, Massachusetts General Hospital , Program Chair
Spencer Smith, University of California Santa Barbara, United States , Program Chair

Erin Buckley, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
Kwanghun Chung, Massachusetts Institute of Tech., USA
Patrick Drew, Pennsylvania State University, USA
Ute Hochgeschwender, Central Michigan University, USA
Michael Lin, Stanford University, USA
Darcy Peterka, Columbia University, USA
Luca Pollonini, University of Houston, USA
Alipasha Vaziri, The Rockefeller University, USA


Plenary Session

Valentina Emiliani

Vision Institute Paris, France

Toward Circuit Optogenetics

Valentina will present how recent joint progress in light delivering approaches, opsins engineering and laser sources development have brought the field of optogenetics into a new phase that we can name ‘circuit optogenetics’, where neural circuits can be optically interrogated with milli-second temporal precision and single-cell resolution.

About the Speaker

Valentina Emiliani joined the Max Born Institute after having obtained her PhD in Physics in Rome in 1998.  She investigate carrier transport in quantum wire by near field optical microscopy (SNOM). In 2002 she moved at the European Laboratory for Nonlinear Spectroscopy to lead a research group focused on the investigation of light propagation in disordered structure by SNOM. In 2002 she moved to Paris at the Institute Jacques Monod in Paris. Her interest was to study the role of mechanical forces on the establishment of cell polarity by optical tweezers. In 2005 she was awarded with the European Young Investigator grant and formed the “Wave front engineering microscopy” group at Paris Descartes University, pioneering the use of wave front shaping for neuroscience. Valentina became research director in 2011 and Director of the Neurophotonics laboratory in 2014.

In 2018, she moved her group at the Vision Institute in Paris where she has also taken the head of the photonics department. In 2015 she obtained the Prix “Coups d’élan pour la recherche française” from the Bettencourt-Shueller foundation and in 2017 the Axa chair  “Investigation of visual circuits by optical wave front shaping “.

Aydogan Ozcan

California NanoSystems Institute UCLA, USA

Deep Learning-enabled Computational Microscopy and Sensing

Deep learning is a class of machine learning techniques that uses multi-layered artificial neural networks for automated analysis of signals or data. The name comes from the general structure of deep neural networks, which consist of several layers of artificial neurons, each performing a nonlinear operation, stacked over each other. Beyond its main stream applications such as the recognition and labeling of specific features in images, deep learning holds numerous opportunities for revolutionizing image formation, reconstruction and sensing fields. In this presentation, I will provide an overview of some of our recent work on the use of deep neural networks in advancing computational microscopy and sensing systems, also covering their biomedical applications.

About the Speaker

Aydogan Ozcan is the Chancellor’s Professor at UCLA and an HHMI Professor with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, leading the Bio- and Nano-Photonics Laboratory at UCLA and is also the Associate Director of the California NanoSystems Institute. Ozcan holds 38 issued patents and >20 pending patent applications and is also the author of one book and the co-author of >500 peer-reviewed publications in major scientific journals and conferences.

Ozcan is the founder and a member of the Board of Directors of Lucendi Inc. and Holomic/Cellmic LLC, which was named a Technology Pioneer by The World Economic Forum in 2015. Dr. Ozcan is a Fellow of the International Photonics Society (SPIE), The Optical Society (OSA), the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), and the Guggenheim Foundation, and has received major awards including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, International Commission for Optics Prize, Biophotonics Technology Innovator Award, Rahmi M. Koc Science Medal, International Photonics Society Early Career Achievement Award, Army Young Investigator Award, NSF CAREER Award, NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, Navy Young Investigator Award, IEEE Photonics Society Young Investigator Award and Distinguished Lecturer Award, National Geographic Emerging Explorer Award, National Academy of Engineering The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Award and MIT’s TR35 Award for his seminal contributions to computational imaging, sensing and diagnostics.


Special Events

Hot Topic Discussions

Monday, 15 April, 13:00-13:45
Join your colleagues for informal discussions on a selection of current hot topics . Round tables will be set on the back patio and a different topic will be featured at each table. Topics to be discussed include, Deep Learning for Quantitative Imaging Analysis, Artificial Intelligence in Optics and Photonics and Implicit Bias . You can also bring your own topic and host a table . Please note that lunch will not be provided . We recommend that you visit the hotel’s Visita Barista or Bill’s Grill for lunch and then come on over with it.

Student & Early Career Professional Development & Networking Lunch and Learn

Monday, 15 April, 12:30–14:00
This program will provide a unique opportunity for students and early career professionals, who are close to finishing or who have recently finished their doctorate degree, to interact with experienced researchers. Key industry and academic leaders in the community will be matched for each student based on the student's preference or similarity of research interests. Students interested in all career paths – from those seeking an academic position, to those wishing to start a technology business, to those interested government/public service, to those looking to translate their benchwork skills to product development – are encouraged to apply.  Students will have an opportunity to discuss their ongoing research and career plans with their mentor, while mentors will share their professional journey and provide useful tips to those who attend. Lunch will be provided.

This Workshop is complimentary for OSA Members and space is limited. Not all who apply will be able to attend due to space limitations and priority will be given to those who have most recently or are close to graduation. 

Hosted By: OSA Foundation

Congress Reception 

Monday, 15 April, 18:30–20:00
Join your fellow attendees for the Congress Reception. Enjoy western fare while dancing the night away in the hotel's Coyote Corral. One reception ticket is included in the Full Technical Registration Fee. Guest tickets may be purchased for US $50.

 Emerging Biomedical Applications of Nonlinear Optics

Tuesday, 16 April; 12:30-14:00
Join the OSA Nonlinear Optics Technical Group for this special event exploring potential applications for nonlinear optics within the field of biomedical optics. Our speakers will give short five-minute talks on their research, which is at the intersection of nonlinear optics and biomedical engineering, followed by a moderated question and answer session. This technical group event will also provide an opportunity for you to network with others who share an interest in this area. 

Hosted By: OSA Nonlinear Optics technical Group

A Celebration of the Nobel Prize Winning Work of Arthur Ashkin

Tuesday, 16 April, 17:30–19:30
Attendees are invited to join the OSA Optical Trapping and Manipulation in Molecular and Cellular Biology Technical group as they celebrate the pioneering work of Dr. Arthur Ashkin. The event will bring together members of the optical trapping community to recognize Dr. Ashkin for receiving the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics and to discuss his work in this area. Dr. Gabe Spalding of Illinois Wesleyan University will give a brief presentation reflecting on Ashkin’s work, which will be followed by a networking reception bringing together researchers who share an interest in optical trapping and manipulation.

Hosted By: OSA Optical Trapping and Manipulation in Molecular and Cellular Biology Technical Group


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