Welcome to the Baran Lab
Our research broadly focuses on three topics: photodynamic therapy, diffuse optical spectroscopy, and medical image processing.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is an emerging technique that utilizes photosensitive drugs to selectively destroy tumors and microbial infections. We currently have an open Phase 1 clinical trial investigating PDT with methylene blue to treat infected deep tissue abscesses, including measurement of patient-specific optical properties for treatment planning. Our pre-clinical work related to PDT is focused on treatment of acute abdominal infection, optimization of drug and light doses for antimicrobial PDT, and novel drug delivery methods for oncological applications.
Diffuse optical spectroscopy is used to characterize the propagation of light through highly-scattering biological tissue. Based on analytical and computational models, diffuse reflectance and fluorescence can be used to extract tissue absorption and scattering properties, as well as drug concentration for PDT applications. This can be used to generate patient-specific treatment plans for PDT, as well as monitor the progression of therapy. Our current work is focused on machine learning approaches to data analysis and instrument calibration.
Medical image processing involves the application of computer algorithms to obtain quantitative information from computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance (MR), and positron emission tomography (PET) images. This work is driven by two main applications: (1) Segmentation of deep tissue abscesses from clinical CT images for PDT treatment planning. (2) Airway segmentation in CT images of neonatal lung samples, as part of the LungMap project, in order to study the development of the bronchiole tree. We are focused on the design and implementation of automated segmentation techniques.
Further details on these projects, as well as related recent publications, can be found on the Projects tab.
Graduate and undergraduate students are currently working on a number of projects related to these core research areas. Interested undergraduate students are invited to contact Dr. Baran regarding future opportunities. We are currently seeking highly motivated PhD students to work on development of optical spectroscopy technology and image segmentation algorithms for applications in PDT, as well as clinical translation of these techniques.