processes in vivo and developing confidence that once the cells are transplanted into a patient they will continue to develop normally, present a major remaining challenge that must be overcome before stem cells can be used broadly in regenerative medicine. Microscopic imaging technologies will provide key non-invasive methods to monitor the growth process of stem-cell-derived tissues and help ensure their safety and efficacy for transplantation.
Finding: Optical techniques using solid-state light sources and detectors combined with microfluidics are the ideal technology base for automated, low-cost, portable devices that can be operated by personnel without their needing extensive training. In high-income countries the primary causes of death and patient morbidity are degenerative diseases due to longer life expectancy; in contrast, in low-income countries the infectious diseases remain leading causes of death. One of the primary challenges for infectious diseases in low-income countries is to develop low-cost diagnostic methods that can identify disease in its pre-symptomatic and pre-infectious early stage. Additionally, diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis have different phenotypes that can be identified using optically based diagnostic methods and thus help determine the most effective course of therapy.
Finding: The current generation of imaging instruments (CT, MRI, OCT, and ultrasound) provides unprecedented resolution, allowing spectacular three-dimensional, non-invasive images of human anatomy. These data sets contain information that will allow early diagnosis of many potentially fatal diseases, including lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and Alzheimer’s disease. Early detection often provides the opportunity for the most effective intervention. However, these images contain an enormous amount of information, at times overwhelming the ability of the radiologist or clinician to effectively evaluate and digest all the information available from the raw images. Similar challenges are faced by ophthalmologists interpreting three-dimensional data sets generated by OCT instruments, and likewise by pathologists dealing with large data sets generated by the automated scanning of large tissue sections imaged with subcellular resolution. Automated image-analysis software can provide reliable quantitative measurement of key features from these complex data sets, improving the diagnostic reliability, decreasing the amount of time required, and lowering cost. Clearly all of these new image approaches have many challenges in common and could benefit from a centralized infrastructure for sharing data and image-analysis software algorithms.
Finding: A person’s genes determine, in part, that person’s tendency to succumb to specific diseases. Developing more cost-effective methods to sequence human genomes could lead to effective identification of an individual’s risk factors and potentially to effective early intervention and preventative strategies. Almost all of