Despite widespread government and public interest, there are significant barriers to translating basic science discoveries into clinical practice. Biophotonics and biomedical optics technologies can be used to overcome many of these hurdles, due, in part, to offering new portable, bedside, and accessible devices. The current JBO special issue highlights promising activities and examples of translational biophotonics from leading laboratories around the world. We identify common essential features of successful clinical translation by examining the origins and activities of three major international academic affiliated centers with beginnings traceable to the mid-late 1970s: The Wellman Center for Photomedicine (Mass General Hospital, USA), the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic (University of California, Irvine, USA), and the Medical Laser Center Lübeck at the University of Lübeck, Germany. Major factors driving the success of these programs include visionary founders and leadership, multidisciplinary research and training activities in light-based therapies and diagnostics, diverse funding portfolios, and a thriving entrepreneurial culture that tolerates risk. We provide a brief review of how these three programs emerged and highlight critical phases and lessons learned. Based on these observations, we identify pathways for encouraging the growth and formation of similar programs in order to more rapidly and effectively expand the impact of biophotonics and biomedical optics on human health.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Biomedical Engineering