Imaging and image analysis are used ubiquitously in biological and biomedical research. One of the great advantages of imaging is its intuitive information content; much can be learned from just a glance at the data. On the other hand, these data generally contain a very large amount of untapped information. For example, characterization of spatial phenotype heterogeneity in cells on a tissue scaffold is a critical question in tissue engineering, histopathology, and basic systems biology. However, there is currently no way to obtain such information short of using destructive and very labor intensive approaches.
We are developing imaging based methods to characterize cells and tissues in minimally or non- invasive formats which maintain high spatial and temporal resolution. This requires the development of high specificity probes capable of identifying specific signaling events and quantitative imaging methods which capture cell responses and response heterogeneity. We are also developing functional materials that induce specific cellular behavior, and that can be used as reference materials against which to calibrate our methods.