Introduction to Britton Chance Center for Biomedical Photonics

Photonics may be defined as science and technology that studies the performance and the applications of the photon as a carrier for information and energy. The science includes the quantum characteristics of the photon, and the various effects and their rules during the interactions between photon and matter including molecule, atom, electron and other photons. The technology mainly studies the generation, movement, transmission, control and detection of the photons and so on. Biomedical Photonics provides solutions based on photonic methods and technology for the field of medicine, biology and modern biotechnology. Biomedical Photonics involves the imaging, detecting and manipulating of the biological specimen. In biology area, it mainly detects the molecular functions and structures and therefore explores the mechanisms in molecule level. In medical area, it mostly accounts for the tissue structures and functions. Biomedical Photonics may provide ways to non-invasively detect, diagnose and treat a variety of diseases in molecular level in both macroscopic and microscopic scales.

Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) has started up comprehensively the construction of the discipline of biomedical photonics since 1997 and set up a laboratory named after Dr. Britton Chance, a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, who is one of the pioneers in this field. Based on the laboratory, in 1999, HUST was authorized to offer Cheung Kong Scholar Professorship for the discipline of biomedical photonics as a part of "Cheung Kong Scholars Programme" of the Ministry of Education (MoE) of China. In 2000, this Britton Chance Laboratory was then authorized to expand as the first Key Laboratory of Biomedical Photonics of Ministry of Education of China. In 2001, the Virtual Research Center for Biomedical Photonics of MoE was established in this laboratory. In 2004, this laboratory became the core part of the Hubei Bioinformatics and Molecular Imaging Key Laboratory. In 2005, this Laboratory joined Wuhan National Laboratory for Optoelectronics, as its Division of Biomedical Photonics.

Through a decade of endeavor, especially under the instruction, encouragement and support from Dr. Britton Chance, the laboratory has made significant improvements in scientific research, researchers training and academic exchange. To honor Dr. Briton Chance's help, in August 2006, HUST renamed the Chance laboratory as Britton Chance Biomedical photonics research center.

This center aims at exploring the neuronal information processing mechanisms and developing new methods of disease diagnosis and treatment based on photonics methods and technologies. Studies mainly include five research aspects:
Optical Brain Imaging and Neuroinformatics
Optical Molecular Imaging and Systems Biology
Digital Life and Biomedical Informatics
Optical Probes and Nanobiophotonics
Multimodal Biomedical Imaging and Tissue Optics.
Over these years, this center has successively undertaken and accomplished more than 50 scientific research programs supported by National Basic Research Program of China, National High-Tech Projects, National Natural Science Foundation and Ministry of Education of China.

In terms of research facilities, this center has gained strong supports from "211 projects" and "985 projects", now with research instruments valued more than 22,000,000 Chinese Yuan. The main apparatus and equipments include: various types of laser sources(such as femtosecond pulses laser), modern microscopy system(such as Multi-Photon Microscopy), high sensitive image detecting system, near infrared brain function imaging system, Intrinsic optical signal imaging system, laser speckle imaging system, digital x-ray imaging system, microelectrode array and patch clamp system, high resolution microscopic data acquiring system for anatomic structure, high performance computing cluster. There are also standard facilities for modern molecule and cell biology experiments and optical probe developments.

This center highly values the international cooperation and academic exchanges. We have undertaken international academic conferences on the discipline for a number of times. Internationally, we have substantive cooperation with University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, University of Washington, Texas A&M University, University of California Irvine in America and Oregon Health & Science University, Saratov National University in Russia, Humboldt University in Germany and Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. At home, we also establish good cooperation with Shanghai Institute of Neuroscience (Chinese Academy of Science CAS), Institute of Psychology (CAS), Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica (CAS), Beijing University, Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, Southeast University, Shanghai Center for Bioinformation Technology and so on.

Internationalization and discipline intersection are the most significant peculiarities of this center. We highly value merging different disciplines and teamwork. The research team has a broad professional background, covering from physics optics control science electronics computer science medicine neuron biology to analytical science and so on, with high-level researchers all having overseas study and work experiences, over 90% of them are Ph.D. degree bearers.

In the spirit of "Ideality, Sedulity, Solidarity, Deploitation", the Britton Chance Biomedical Photonics Research Center is committed to enhance its research faculty, improve the scientific research level and make efforts to become an internationally center with high academic reputation in scientific research, talents training and academic exchange in the field of Biomedical Photonics.