Skip To Content

Optics and the Brain

24 April 2022 – 27 April 2022 The Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale, Florida United States

The USA BRAIN Initiative and the European Human Brain Project have identified the urgent need for new technologies that can probe the working brain across all levels from single neurons to entire behaving organisms. Optics offers a unique toolkit for multiscale imaging of the living and intact brain, while new genetic labeling strategies provide optical contrast to neural function and optogenetics permits the control of cellular function with light.

By bringing together an international group of leading engineers, optical and medical scientists, biologists, chemists and physicians, the meeting reflects this topic’s highly interdisciplinary area of research. The BRAIN meeting will bring together researchers working in all aspects of optics in the brain 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.



Optics and the Brain

1. Optics in the Human Brain 

  • Functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and diffuse optical tomography (DOT)
  • Diffuse Correlation Spectroscopy.
  • Wearable systems
  • Brain computer interfaces
  • Intrasurgical brain optical imaging
  • Fiber-optic probes, spectroscopy, and endoscopic imaging
  • Optical modulation of the human central nervous system
  • Retinal neuroscience
  • Speckle contrast
  • Vascular and metabolic modelling
  • Clinical applications
  • Translational optical agents (optogenetics, calcium indicators, molecular probes)

2. Rethinking Scan Patterns and Shaping Light 

  • Light sheet microscopy
  • Wavefront engineering
  • Adaptive optics
  • Structured illumination
  • Temporal focusing
  • Non-gaussian beam shaping (Bessel, Doughnut, Airy, etc...)

3. Structural and super-resolution techniques 

  • Resolution improvement techniques
  • Fluorophores design and optimization
  • Use of super-resolution
  • Particle tracking
  • Molecular and biophysical processes

4. Analyzing Circuitry, Network Function and Information Processing 

  • Model systems for network studies
  • Hybrid theoretical-experimental approaches to network analysis
  • Models of network inference
  • Imaging strategies optimized for network analysis
  • Deciphering functions from activity data
  • Multiscale imaging of brain activity
  • Functional microscopy
  • Wearable microscopes
  • Hybrid electrical/optical microscopy.

5. Optogenetics, Genetic Encoding, and novel probes 

  • Optode and electrode hardware for excitation and/or recording
  • Use of miniature microscopes with optogenetics
  • Genetically encoded calcium and voltage indicators
  • Novel forms of functional contrast
  • New genetic strategies for optogenetics
  • Modeling and overcoming scatter in optogenetics
  • Challenges of scaling up optogenetics to non-human primates

6. Scattering, clearing, and wavefront engineering 

  • Advances in Light sheet microscopy
  • Novel techniques for in-vivo and in-vitro whole-brain imaging and actuation
  • Zebrafish, Drosophila and similar small organisms
  • Clearing techniques and structural imaging, animal to human
  • Optical data management and analysis strategies
  • Multiphoton strategies for deeper imaging
  • Adaptive optics strategies

7. Physiology and Brain Disease 

  • Application of optical spectroscopy and imaging systems to the study of the brain in both health and disease (i.e., Alzheimer’s, stroke, epilepsy, etc.)
  • Models of brain disease and optical tools
  • Photothrombosis
  • Optical therapeutics
  • Photodynamic therapy

8. Big Data Tools (Collection, Management, Reduction, Analysis) 

  • Rapid imaging strategies
  • Serial slices imaging
  • Large field-of-view and space-bandwidth microscopes
  • Compression strategies
  • Data management tools
  • Machine learning
  • Software tools and data formats

9. Optical hybrids 

  • Photoacoustics / optoacoustics
  • Acousto-optic approaches
  • Acoustic modulation of neural activity
  • Combined optical / PET / CT / MRI
  • Combined electrical/optical



Emily Gibson
University of Colorado at Denver, United States

Lin Tian
University of California Davis, United States

David Busch
UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, United States
Program Chair

Jason Kerr
MPI Neurobiologie des Verhaltens -CAESAR,
Program Chair



  • Emily Gibson, University of Colorado at Denver, United StatesChair
  • Lin Tian, University of California Davis, United StatesChair
  • David Busch, UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, United StatesProgram Chair
  • Jason Kerr, MPI Neurobiologie des Verhaltens -CAESARProgram Chair
  • Adam Bauer, Washington University in St Louis, United States
  • Andre Berndt, University of Washington, United States
  • Hod Dana, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, United States
  • Yves De Koninck, Université Laval, Canada
  • Juliet Gopinath, University of Colorado at Boulder, United States
  • Xue Han, Boston University, United States
  • Karl Kilborn, Intelligent Imaging Innovations, Inc, United States
  • Christina Kim, University of California Davis, United States
  • Andrew Lambert, University of New South Wales, Australia
  • Jennifer Lynch, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Tianyi Mao, OHSU Vollum Institute, United States
  • Miriam Menzel, Technische Universiteit Delft, Netherlands
  • Jerome Mertz, Boston University, United States
  • Dan Oron, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
  • Eirini Papagiakoumou, Institut de la Vision, Inserm, France
  • Shahrzad Parsa, HemoPhotonics SL, Spain
  • T. Joshua Pfefer, FDA Ctr Devices & Radiological Health, United States
  • Guy Potvin, Defence R&D Canada, Canada
  • Rebecca Re, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
  • David Sinefeld, Jerusalem College of Technology, Israel
  • Italo Toselli, Fraunhofer IOSB, Germany
  • Martin Wolf, University of Zurich, Switzerland



  • Osnath Assayag, 3i Group FranceFrance
    SLM-based 3D Photostimulation and Temporal Focusing : A Commercial Approach
  • Adam Eggebrecht, Washington University in St LouisUnited States
    Towards Illuminating Brain Function in Critical Care Settings with High Density Diffuse Optical Tomography
  • Ali Ertürk, Helmholtz Zentrum München GmbHGermany
    IDISCO w/Proteomics
  • Xue Han, Boston UniversityUnited States
    Large-scale and High-speed Voltage Imaging Analysis of Biological Neural Networks During Behavior
  • Na Ji, University of California BerkeleyUnited States
    Engineering Bessel Beam for High-Resolution Brain Imaging
  • Adam Liebert, Inst Biocybernet i Inżynierii Biomed PANPoland
    Time-Resolved Approach for Enhancement of NIRS And DCS Sensitivity to Changes in Cerebral Blood Flow and Oxygenation
  • Ashwin Parthasarathy, University of South FloridaUnited States
    Low-cost Approaches for Quantitative Optical Measurement of Cerebral Blood Flow
  • Nicolas Pegard, Univ of North Carolina at Chapel HillUnited States
    Fast and Efficient Computer-generated Holography Techniques for Optogenetic Control of Cell Ensembles
  • Mitchell Robinson, Athinoula A. Martinos CenterUnited States
    Improving Depth Sensitivity and Brain Blood Flow Specificity of Diffuse Correlation Spectroscopy
  • Daniel Scarbrough, Colorado School of MinesUnited States
    Advances in Multimodal, Single Element Detection Spatial Frequency Modulation Imaging
  • Ilias Tachtsidis, University College LondonUnited Kingdom
    Metabolic Neuromonitoring with Optics: Systems and Applications
  • Lei Tian, Boston UniversityUnited States
    Computational Miniature Mesoscope for Large-Scale Fluorescence Imaging
  • Alipasha Vaziri, Rockefeller UniversityUnited States
    Towards Cortex-wide Recording of Neuroactivity at Cellular Resolution
  • Haining Zhong, OHSU Vollum InstituteUnited States
    In Vivo Imaging of Intracellular Signaling Underlying Neuromodulation


Plenary Speakers

Laura Marcu
University of California, Davis, USA

Bringing Cancer to Light in the Operating Room

This presentation concerns the development for clinically-compatible multispectral fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) techniques and applications in surgical oncology. We will show FLIM’s potential for real-time intraoperative delineation of brain tumors and head-and-neck cancer during robotic surgery.

About the Speaker

Laura Marcu is Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Neurological Surgery at the University of California at Davis. She received her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering (1998) from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Since 2007, she has served also as co-director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center - Biomedical Technology Program at the UC Davis Medical Center. Her research interest is in the area of biomedical optics, with a particular focus on research for the development of label-free optical spectroscopy and imaging techniques for tissue diagnostics and image-guided interventions. Area of applications include surgical oncology, intravascular cardiovascular diagnostics, and regenerative medicine. She is an elected Fellow of AAAS, AIMBE, BMES, Optica, SPIE and NAI.


Special Events

Women of Biophotonics Meet & Greet

Saturday, 23 April 19:00 – 20:00
Lona Restaurant, Westin Fort Lauderdale Beachfront Resort

Please join Chairs Christine P. Hendon, Rainer A. Leitgeb and other members of the Biophotonics Congress committee for an informal networking event bringing together the women in biomedical optics. The program's goal is to provide an opportunity to meet other women in the field and discuss challenges and opportunities for women in biophotonics. All are welcome, regardless of gender, so please join us to meet others attending this cutting-edge conference and share your ideas on helping ensure our community and this meeting is as welcoming and inclusive as possible.

The Physicians' Perspective: A Joint MHA and Translational Session

Sunday, 24 April 13:30 – 15:30

13:30-14:00: Optical Skin Biopsy with Line-field Confocal Optical Coherence Tomography (LC-OCT), Arnaud Dubois, Damae Medical, France
14:00-15:30: Panel Discussion: Clinicians' Perspective on Optical Imaging in Patient Care

We will explore the challenges and opportunities for direct clinical impact of innovations in microscopy and related technologies. Panelists are all practicing clinicians who routinely use imaging to directly provide patient care. In this lively and interactive live discussion, we will explore exciting and sometimes controversial topics off-the-record, including:

  • artifical intelligence: hype vs true clinical game-changer
  • barriers to clinical uptake of novel microscopies
  • best practices to engage clinicians and patients with new technologies
  • commonly missed critical factors for clinical work flow
  • real world medicolegal and ethical concerns

Please send suggestions for topics or questions for the panel to Suggestions from trainees and junior colleagues are particularly encouraged.

Eric Tkaczyk, MD, PhD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, USA
Milind Rajadhyaksha, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, USA

Richard Levenson, MD, UC Davis Health, USA
Vic Neel, MD, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital, USA
Harold Rabinovitz, MD, Skin and Cancer Associates - Plantation, USA
Gennady Rubinstein, MD, Dermatology & Laser Centre, USA
Eric Yang, MD, PhD, Stanford University School of Medicine, USA

Endometriosis Innovation Challenge Finalist Demonstrations

Tuesday, 26 April 09:30 – 10:00

Innovation Finalists Mária Pilar Urizar, IO-CSIC, Spain and Mahima Sharma, IIT Madras, India will present their proposals for the Endometriosis Challenge. Attendees will vote on the winner through the conference app.


Image for keeping the session alive