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Optics and the Brain

12 April 2021 – 16 April 2021 OSA Virtual Event - Pacific Daylight Time (UTC - 07:00)

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



  • Thomas Broggini, University of California San DiegoUnited States
    Optics Informs fMRI: Vasomotor Oscillatory Dynamics of the Pial Neurovascular Circuit
  • Ji-Xin Cheng, Boston UniversityUnited States
    Non-genetic High-precision Neural Stimulation Using Laser-produced Ultrasound
  • Anne Churchland, Cold Spring Harbor LaboratoryUnited States
    Imaging Neural Activity for Decisions and Movements
  • Mary Lou Jepsen, Google LLCUnited States
    An MRI Substitute in Your Pocket - Progress Towards Our Audacious Goal!
  • Baljit Khakh, University of California Los AngelesUnited States
    Genetically Targeted Astrocyte Gq GPCR Signaling Attenuation in Vivo
  • Duygu Kuzum, UC San Diego
    Multimodal Neural Interfaces for Probing Brain Circuits
  • Jerome Lecoq, Stanford UniversityUnited States
    The Death of Shot Noise: Removing Uncorrelated Noise in Systems Neuroscience using Deep Interpolation
  • Maria Lehtinen, Harvard UniversityUnited States
    Illuminating the Choroid Plexus - Cerebrospinal Fluid Barrier
  • Francesco Marsili, Jet Propulsion LaboratoryUnited States
    Diffuse Correlation Spectroscopy for Brain-computer Interface Applications
  • Robin Angus Silver, University College LondonUnited Kingdom
    Imaging Neurons and Circuits using Acousto-optic Lens 3D Two-photon Microscopy
  • Keith St. Lawrence, Lawson Health Research InstituteCanada
    Development of Multimodal Optical Technologies for Monitoring Cerebral Perfusion and Metabolism
  • Kai Wang, Institute of NeuroscienceChina
    Imaging Volumetric Dynamics in the Brain by Light Field Microscopy
  • Changhuei Yang, California Institute of TechnologyUnited States
    Diffusing Wave Spectroscopy for Blood Flow Monitoring – a Review and a Unified Approach.
  • Xin Yu, Harvard UniversityUnited States
    Diffusing Wave Spectroscopy for Blood Flow Monitoring – A Review and a Unified Approach
  • Meryem Yucel, Boston UniversityUnited States
    Neuroscience of the Everyday World using fNIRS



  • Anna Devor, Boston University, United StatesChair
  • Darcy Peterka, Columbia University, United StatesChair
  • Pablo Blinder, Tel Aviv University, IsraelProgram Chair
  • Erin Buckley, Georgia Institute of TechnologyProgram Chair
  • Wesley Baker, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, United States
  • Stefan Carp, Massachusetts General Hospital, United States
  • Christian Crouzet, University of California Irvine, United States
  • Kevin Dean, UT Southwestern, United States
  • Michèle Desjardins, Polytechnique Montréal, Canada
  • Mamadou Diop, Western University, Canada
  • Adam Eggebrecht, Washington University in St Louis, United States
  • Sergio Fantini, Tufts University, United States
  • Silvina Ferradal, Children's Hospital, Boston, United States
  • Ariel Gilad, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
  • Jana Kainerstorfer, Carnegie Mellon University, United States
  • Jan Klohs, ETH Zurich & University of Zurich
  • Evelyn Lake, Yale University, United States
  • Hanli Liu, University of Texas at Arlington, United States
  • Luca Pollonini, University of Houston, United States
  • Ikbal Sencan, Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, United States
  • Iftach Shaked, University of California San Diego, United States
  • Vivek Srinivasan, University of California Davis, United States
  • Martin Thunemann, Boston University, United States
  • Cam Ha Tran, University of Nevada, Reno, United States
  • Hana Uhlirova, Institute of Scientific Instruments, Czech Republic
  • Abbas Yaseen, Northeastern University, United States
  • Meryem Yucel, Boston University, United States


Plenary Session

Sandrine Lévêque-Fort

Paris Saclay University

Alternative Strategies for 3D Single Molecule Localization Microscopy

I will present our recent work on 3D imaging in Single Molecule Localization Microscopy, where intrinsic properties of fluorescence emission can be directly used to enhance the resolution.

About the Speaker

Sandrine Lévêque-Fort is a CNRS Researcher Director at the Institute of molecular science (ISMO) in Paris Saclay University. She obtained her PhD on the development of a new acousto-optic imaging approach for imaging through scattering media in the Optical Lab of ESPCI in Paris. She then became a postdoctoral fellow in the physics department of Imperial College, where she started to develop time resolved fluorescence microscopy but also structured illumination strategy. She joined the CNRS in 2001 to develop different strategies to improve spatial and temporal resolution for fluorescence microscopy, by implementing new configurations or used plasmonics substrates to engineered fluorescence emission. Since 2009, she has proposed various approaches to take advantage of supercritical angle fluorescence (SAF) emission as an alternative intrinsic tool given by the fluorophore itself to access axial information. In wide field microscopy this allows a dual depth imaging without any photon loss while preserving ideal sectioning for membrane imaging. In combination with super-resolution microscopy techniques (DONALD/DAISY), these new approaches permit to reveal quantitatively the 3D cellular nanoarchitecture. Since 2016, she has combined structured excitation with single molecule localization. By introducing a time signature within the localization process, this technique called ModLoc permits to retrieve the fluorophores’ information thanks to the phase of their modulated emission and benefits of an enhanced and uniform localization precision.

Dan Oron

Weizmann Institute of Science

Quantum Enhanced Superresolution Confocal Microscopy

We show how the resolution of a standard confocal can be increased fourfold with a twofold axial resolution increase by harnessing the quantum phenomenon of fluorescence antibunching and by its classical analog of fluorescence intermittency.

About the Speaker

Dan Oron earned a B.Sc. in mathematics and physics from the Hebrew university in 1994. He earned his M.Sc. degree in physics from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 1998 and received his Ph.D., also in physics, from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 2005, under the guidance of Prof. Yaron Silberberg. After conducting postgraduate research with Prof. Uri Banin at the Hebrew University for two years, he joined the staff of the Weizmann Institute in April 2007. He is currently a professor at the department of Molecular Chemistry and Materials Science at the Weizmann institute. His main research interests are at the interface between light and the nanoscale, studying both the interaction of light with nanostructured materials (mostly inorganic and hybrid semiconductor nanocrystals), optical superresolution methods harnessing both quantum and classical fluctuations in light emission and the optics of biological nanostructured materials.

R. Clay Reid

The Allen Institute for Brain Science

Petascale Microscopy for Brain Mapping: Electron and Light Microscopic Approaches to Connectomics

The reconstruction of neural pathways and connections (connectomics) requires high-resolution microscopy over large volumes, thus requiring extremely large data sets. I’ll discuss approaches, from data collection through segmentation, for analyzing neural circuits at the petascale.

About the Speaker

Clay Reid is Senior Investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, where he started a department in 2012 to study how information is encoded and processed in neural networks of the visual system. Prior to joining the Allen Institute, Reid was Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. Throughout his career, he has used a combination of imaging and anatomical approaches to investigate how the structure of neural connections relates to the function of cortical circuits. He has helped to pioneer new methods for recording increasingly large ensembles of neurons to study sensory processing. In parallel, he has developed methods to analyze connections in these ensembles using large-scale anatomical reconstructions (connectomics) with serial-section electron microscopy.


Special Events

Meet the Plenary Speaker Series

The Biophotonics Congress: Optics in the Life Sciences will feature 3 Plenary Speakers. Following technical talks, join your colleagues for a meet-and-greet and discussion with our Congress Plenary Speakers.

  • Tuesday, 13 April: Dan Oron, Weizmann Institute of Science

  • Wednesday, 14 April: Sandrine Lévêque-Fort, Paris Saclay University

  • Thursday, 15 April: R. Clay Reid, The Allen Institute for Brain Science

Monday, 12 April

Successfully Navigate an OSA Virtual Meeting

The post-COVID world has new challenges in regards to virtual meetings – are you prepared? Listen to Isaiah Hankel, Cheeky Scientist, help guide you through the different platforms OSA uses and how you can effectively network and get the most out of your meeting experience.

Tuesday, 13 April

Optical Trapping and Manipulation: Careers and Networking Event
Poster Session I

Wednesday, 14 April

Meet the OSA Journals Editors

The OSA Publishing journal Editors welcome your questions, ideas, and concerns. Join this online event to learn more about journal acceptance criteria, responding to review requests, addressing reviewer feedback, and other topics of interest. All are welcome!

Poster Session II

Thursday, 15 April

Photobiomodulation: An emerging biophotonics of clinical transitions and advanced therapeutic devices


Image for keeping the session alive