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URMC / Labs / Foster Lab

Foster Lab

2 color vesselWe investigate a wide range of topics in biomedical optics and photodynamic therapy (PDT). PDT is a relatively new cancer intervention that has received limited regulatory agency approval in the U.S. and several other countries. It makes use of nontoxic photosensitizer drugs which, when irradiated with visible or near infrared light, initiate photochemical reactions that destroy tumors through a combination of direct and indirect mechanisms. We study PDT mechanisms and approaches to optimization at the molecular, cellular, tissue, and whole organism levels. And, we use photodynamic action as a tool to investigate more basic problems in optical biophysics. In recent years, our research has included an important translational component. We have, for example, designed and built instrumentation that integrates the delivery of the PDT treatment light with performance of reflectance and fluorescence spectroscopic evaluation of tumor response to therapy. One such system is already in clinical trials in skin cancer patients.

Other current projects include studies of light scattering from intact cells, fluorescence imaging of gene expression and of immune cell infiltration in tumors in vivo, optical property measurements of human cancer, and detailed mathematical modeling of photodynamic therapy dosimetry.

The research is highly interdisciplinary. Graduate students from Physics and Astronomy, the Institute of Optics, and the School of Medicine and Dentistry's graduate program in Biophysics have earned PhDs in our group. They have gone on to post doctoral fellowships at leading laboratories and to positions in colleges, research universities, industry and even law school. We invite you to explore these pages, which include descriptions of present and past group members, examples of research areas, and a complete list of our publications.