Seeing through "the window to the soul": advanced retinal optical imaging and clinical applications
Dr. Ji Yi obtained his bachelor in Biomedical Engineering from Tsinghua University, and subsequently completed his PhD and postdoctoral training in Northwestern University. He started his independent research in Boston University School of Medicine in 2015 as Assistant Professor. His research focuses on developing novel optical imaging techniques and methods for early detection of cancers and retina-related blinding diseases. Among other inventions, he developed various imaging methods that enable non-invasive detection of nanoscale structural alterations in tissue and the local tissue metabolism. He is also the first scientist advancing visible light optical coherence tomography into in vivo human retinal imaging. His goal is to translate the new technology and impact the health care for general public.
The common metaphor “The eyes are the windows to the soul” is not only psychological, but also physiological. Retina, a thin layer at the back of the eye that converts the light into electric signal, is also a part of the central nerve system. Because it has a direct ties with brain and relative simple anatomical structures, retina is often an ideal surrogate site to study brain functions. The close relation between retina and brain is also reflected in clinical practice that many cognitive conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, all show pathologies in retina in some degree. In addition to the ties to the brain, the retina itself creates health care problems. Retina-related diseases are the major causes of blindness, affecting millions of people over the world.
In this talk, I will introduce two areas of research in our lab. The first area is to develop novel optical coherence tomography (OCT) methods to study retinal capillary functions. OCT is a three dimensional imaging modality that is analogous to ultrasound imaging. It provide millimeter level penetration and micrometer level resolution in all three dimensions. We utilized the spectroscopic and dynamic imaging to measure blood oxygenation and perfusion in capillary level. The second area is to develop a technique for wide field volumetric fluorescence retinal imaging. Current clinical retinal imaging device is not capable of 3D imaging of fluorescence signal in retina. We developed new technique to fill this void.