2005 Center Highlights

Science & Technology Program


  • CBST co-hosts NATO Advanced Study Institute (ASI) in Biophotonics – held in Canada, September 29 – October 9, 2004. The objective of the Advanced Study Institute was to build a creative advanced biophotonics research and learning environment by bringing together world experts, researchers, PhD students and postdoctoral fellows from both industry and university research organizations; and to explore various practical implications of biophotonics research and technology in disease therapy, environmental practice and security, agriculture and defense.

Bioimaging Theme Area

  • Researchers at CBST have demonstrated the first X-ray tomographic image of a 3-dimensional non-regular object – by using lensless diffraction imaging and a unique reconstruction algorithm called “ShrinkWrap”, which was developed with CBST funding. These results could lead to higherresolution cellular imaging, using currently available synchrotron sources – as well as techniques for single-molecule diffraction measurements planned for the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in 2009.

Cellular and Molecular Biophotonics Theme Area

  • CBST researcher discovers critical amino acid which modulates photophysical behavior of plant phytochromes. This establishes an important focus for site-directed mutagenesis and development of new varieties of phytofluors for different applications in situ.
  • CBST researchers succeed in efficiently patterning, erasing, and functionalizing nanoscale structures in fluid phospholipid bilayers, using femtosecond laser pulses. This technique provides a maskless, aperture-less method to create nanoscale patterns of voids, receptors, and soluble proteins in lipidic environments
  • CBST researchers develop templated phospholipid morphologies to discriminate leaflet dependent functions in model biomembranes. This is a novel platform which may enable new research into biomembrane architecture and physiology, as well as offer a potential route to the development of a new class of membrane-based biosensor.
  • CBST researchers succeed in displaying membrane proteins in their native microenvironments - using patterned membranes, cell lysis and reconstitution. This technique bridges a critical gap in the ability to study living, subcellular systems which are inherently complex and dynamic.
  • CBST researchers use photonic band-gap colloidal crystals to perform label-free detection of ligand-receptor interactions. Shifts in photonic band-gap characteristics provide a means to sense native ligand-receptor interactions without the possible hindrance of exogenous optical labels.
  • CBST researchers succeed in reconstituting lipid rafts onto patterned membrane bilayers. This platform has been used to demonstrate the specific association of triglyeride-rich lipoproteins (TGRLs) with cholesterol-rich microdomains.
  • CBST researcher develops vascular mimetic to study inflammatory pathways in atherosclerosis. This microfluidic device enables direct quantitative analysis of the molecular response of human aortic endothelial cells (HAEC) to low-density and triglyceride-rich lipoproteins. It will also facilitate optical and biophotonic analysis of monocyte adhesion and motility on the vascular endothelium.
  • CBST researchers demonstrate conformational changes in lipoprotein structure upon lipidation, using Raman spectroscopy of optically-trapped LDL particles. This finding provides critical insight into the molecular mechanism of repetitive injury by exposure to increased concentrations of LDLs and TGRLs in the blood.
  • CBST researchers have developed a surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS)-based nanoparticle sensor – which is able to measure biochemical microenvironments within living cells.

Medical Biophotonics Theme Area

  • CBST researchers demonstrate the use of aminoluciferyl peptides to identify cells with specific protease activity. Because of the inherently low background noise associated with bioluminescence, this technique is well-suited for identifying synthetic peptides which could potentially target cancer markers, such as prostate specific antigen, possibly enabling the development of new drug treatments.
  • In a CBST-supported project, physicists from LLNL have teamed up with pediatric oncologists at UC Davis Medical Center – to develop a new method of measuring Raman scattering spectra from optically-trapped cells. By correlating Raman spectra with various cell types and states, the researchers may be able to nondestructively analyze individual immune cells and detect signs of leukemia. This may help to guide therapy and medical intervention by monitoring the presence of these signs in patient blood samples.
  • CBST has signed a contract with Biosense Webster – a Johnson & Johnson company to develop new optically-based medical devices. This agreement represents a strong validation of the quality both of our research and of our researchers.
  • CBST researcher demonstrates biophotonic approach to treating bone cancer. In a prospective, case-control study using canine patients at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Center, scientists are using MR imaging to show that photodynamic therapy of osteosarcoma in the long bones results in dramatically decreased vascular supply to the tumor. This may eventually lead to a favorable alternative to surgical amputation.

Education Program


  • o    K-2 after-school curriculum completed.
  • o    High School Biophotonics Research Academy with 14 student (70% under-represented) completed. Program expanding. Undergraduates from under-represented groups working with high school students to mentor them on their research projects.
  • o    Two High School Teacher Biophotonics Professional Development 3-day courses offered.

Higher Education

  • Three undergraduate Biophotonics courses taught at UC Davis. One entirely videotaped.
  • One Human development course that primarily uses the Biophotonics K-5 after-school curriculum taught at UC Davis.
  • One graduate level Biophotonics course taught at UC Davis plus a course at one of our MSI partner institutions.
  • Prototype Biophotonics specializations course taught at community college partner, TVI.
  • Two students coming for a summer internship.
  • Undergraduate summer internships in 2004 (22 CBST-based students, 40% underrepresented) and 2005, (18-2 students, 40%+ under-represented). Up to seven students are returning for a second summer.
  • Recruited, had booth, and presented at SACNAS and NSBP URG conferences.
  • Graduate students organizing and meeting on a regular basis – community is forming.
  • Graduate Designated Emphasis has 7 students.

Public Outreach

  • “Biophotonics Knowledgebase” begun with sizeable collection online.
  • Over 1000 persons, adults and children, had exposure to Biophotonics at one of our public oriented events (if count the student recruitment events, numbers are closer to 1300).
  • Held technology workshop with participants from three museums plus scientists and CBST educators.
  • Undergraduate students held public booths about Biophotonics at UCD and American River College.


  • Obtained $1 million dollars to enhance URG interaction with STC’s. Got entire process initiated, evaluated and moving with nine projects involving 10 Centers underway.
  • Maintained high numbers of under-represented student involvement (>40%) in various programs.

Knowledge Transfer Program

  • Secured 2nd year funding for CBST Student Commercialization Poster Award (scholarship) from Sacramento Angels ($2,500) and a new partner for this important scholarship, Technology Ventures Corporation (TVC) at $2,500.
  • Helped orchestrate a new partnership for worker retraining and a focused Biophotonics certificate course with the Technical Vocational Institute (TVI); an integrative activity with Science & Technology and the Education and Human Resource program to build a new Biophotonics curriculum.
  • Launched and delivered first-ever professional short-courses on Biophotonics through the key industry and conference associations (IEEE/LEOS and OSA).
  • Secured two (2) new industrial partners as part of the Center’s overall Industry Partnership Program. (Please see Knowledge Transfer section for details).
  • Launched two (2) new start-up companies in this annual year. This makes a total of four (4) total.
  • Secured key speaking engagements at top conferences focused on the field of Biophotonics and related disciplines: OSA/LEOS/IEEE.
  • Sponsored first-ever poster contests at the National Society of Black Phycists Meeting as a first step in nurturing new entrepreneurship at MSI’s.
  • Developed The Enterprise Plan – that will allow the Center to expand its’ presence and help secure critical ORU (Organized Research Unit) designation so that the Center can retain a larger percentage of new funding. This Enterprise Plan will also serve as a foundation to secure the Center’s future, beyond the 10-year “life” as a formal STC with NSF.