Stephen Boppart to give February Frontiers in MBM Lecture

Stephen Boppart, professor of bioengineeringThe MBM Program begins its Frontiers in Miniature Brain Machinery lecture series for the Spring 2019 season with Stephen Boppart, who will speak February 27 at 4pm in 2269 Beckman Institute on “Real-Time Metabolic Imaging using Auto-Fluorescence from Cells.”


Cellular metabolism is highly dynamic, playing a central role in states of both health and disease. However, capturing these dynamics on a commensurate timescale and in a manner that does not perturb these molecular processes is challenging, and restricts the use of chemical dyes, nanoparticles, or probes. Fortunately, both NADH and FAD, two co-enzymes intimately associated with cellular metabolism, are auto-fluorescent, and when excited by optical pulses, will emit an optical signature. We have developed a multi-modal multi-photon optical imaging system based on a novel laser source that permits simultaneous acquisition of four channels of optical signatures. These label-free signatures reveal structural, molecular, and metabolic properties of cells and tissues, providing a wealth of new biomarkers and new ways to visualize biological systems. Coupled with a new fast algorithm and method to measure both fluorescence intensity and lifetime, we have shown fast dynamics in the cell death processes of apoptosis, autophagy, and necrosis, as well as the metabolic changes associated with active macrophages, neurons, and astrocytes. We believe these new optical technologies will find many applications in neuroscience, cancer biology, and the investigation of fundamental cellular processes.

About Stephen Boppart:

Boppart is the Interim Executive Associate Dean and Chief Diversity Officer at Carle Illinois College of Medicine, Director of the Center for Optical Molecular Imaging, Head of the Biophotonics Imaging Laboratory, and Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering in the departments of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Along with a team of 25 researchers, he is investigating novel optical diagnostic imaging technologies for basic science and translational clinical applications. He is currently initiating efforts to direct a campus-wide Illinois Imaging Initiative intended to leverage the strengths and diversity of over 100 faculty working in all aspects of imaging science, technology, and application.

Boppart earned a BS in electrical engineering with an option in Bioengineering in 1990 and an MS in electrical engineering in 1991, both from the University of Illinois. During his master’s program, he developed microfabricated multi-electrode arrays for neural recordings. He then conducted research on laser-tissue interactions in the eye at the Air Force Laser Laboratory in San Antonio, Texas, helping establish national laser safety standards. Afterward, he earned his PhD in medical and electrical engineering at MIT in 1998. His doctoral studies included the development of optical coherence tomography in Professor Jim Fujimoto’s laboratory. As part of a joint program between MIT and Harvard, he completed his MD from Harvard Medical School in June 2000.

Learn more on the Biophotonics website.

The Frontiers in Miniature Brain Machinery lecture series brings experts in the field to speak on related topics to the public at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology. All who are interested in the lectures are welcome to attend.