The Section on Medical Biophysics, led by Robert Bonner, develops new optical technologies in order to characterize or modify early stressors that drive chronic diseases and for use in developing effective disease prevention strategies. Through integrated analysis of multispectral, multimodal clinical retinal imaging, the group maps distributions and dynamics of retinal photochemicals and relates them to cellular dysfunction and early disease progression. Applying these new methods in clinical studies, the Section seeks to test the hypothesis that spectral shifts in retinal irradiance can reduce imbalances among retinal photochemical pathways and that chronic photochemical imbalances drive early age-related and Stargardt's maculopathies, which could be reduced or prevented by appropriate external filters (e.g., spectral sunglasses). The Section's noninvasive molecular mapping methods might facilitate characterization of early retinal disease states, including more readily reversible "preclinical" disease, and the effects of benign, low-cost preventions strategies. The group is also adapting its prior invention of laser capture microdissection into simpler systems more easily integrated with clinical pathology and multiplex molecular analysis of specific cells and organelles extracted from complex tissue.
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