Brain researcher David Boas has been named as winner of the 2016 Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award. His accomplishments include developing one of the first commercial systems to image human brain activity with functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), and inventing diffuse correlation spectroscopy for measuring blood flow.
The annual award recognises outstanding lifetime contributions to the field of biomedical optics through the development of innovative, high impact technologies. Boas will receive his award at SPIE Photonics West in February 2016.
Boas is the director of the Optics Division of the Athinoula A Martinos Centre for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital, a professor in radiology at Harvard Medical School, and editor-in-chief of the journal Neurophotonics.
His contributions have significantly impacted the development and application of optical spectroscopic and correlation methods to measure oxygen and blood flow respectively, both macroscopically in humans as well as microscopically in animal models, the awards committee said in issuing the award. Boas was commended for developing novel, high-impact biomedical optical technologies, as well as following through with impactful application studies, and fostering the widespread adoption of these technologies.
Boas’ long expertise in utilising microscopic measurements of brain activity to form a microscopic model of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has proven to have predictive power, and will help to improve the quantitative interpretation of measurements of human brain activity and physiology, the award citation said.
Following the example of his mentor Britton Chance, Boas is strengthening the community through fostering open discussions and sharing of tools, and by organising educational workshops and conferences to bridge between biomedical optics and the clinical and health science fields.
Shedding light on the brain: Initiatives like the BRAIN programme in the USA are investing large amounts of funding into research into the human brain, an area where advanced optical and photonics technologies are highly sought after. Jessica Rowbury reports