Recent developments in the use of non-linear optical techniques have provided the unique ability to image the molecular structure and function of cells in vivo. This technology is on the verge of bringing together cell biology, physiology and medicine in intact systems where sub-cellular events can be observed in the context of the intact body. The basic use of two-photon excitation fluorescence microscopy essentially permits the delivery of visible photons deep into tissues using infrared light making intra-vital fluorescence microscopy feasible and practical. New optical excitation and detection schemes for the microscope are resulting in several fold improvements in the signal to noise characteristics of this approach providing the most sensitive method of imaging any optical fluorescence probe. This lecture will review an example using a second harmonic imaging method to image the macromolecular structure of the arterial wall that has led to a new theory of early arteriosclerosis development.
Robert S. Balaban is Scientific Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health. He is also Chief of the Laboratory of Cardiac Energetics, Division of Intramural Research, NHLBI. He attended the University of Miami as an undergraduate in marine biology and received Bachelor of Sciences degrees in Biology and Chemistry in 1975. He attended graduate school at Duke University with an NIH training fellowship where he received his Ph.D. in Physiology and Pharmacology in 1980. The title of his dissertation was “The coupling of aerobic metabolism to active ion transport in the kidney”. He was awarded a NATO Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Department of Biochemistry at The University of Oxford (1980-1981).
He joined the NHLBI as a staff fellow in the Laboratory of Kidney and Electrolyte Metabolism in 1981. After continuing his work in renal energetics and the discovery of functional organic osmolytes in the kidney, he redirected his efforts to the study of the heart. In 1988 be became the Chief of the newly formed Laboratory of Cardiac Energetics in the NHLBI. He was appointed to Scientific Director of the Laboratory Research Program in December of 1999. He became the overall Scientific Director of the NHLBI intramural program in 2004.
His primary research interest is in the overall energy economy of intact biological tissues with a recent focus on the function of the heart. Due to his interest in the function of intact systems, his research has relied heavily on the development and use of non-invasive technologies. These technologies include magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy, optical imaging and spectroscopy, positron emission tomography and ultrasound approaches. He has published over 250 papers in peer-reviewed journals on a wide variety of research topics. He is the co-inventor on 10 patents on technology developed for these studies.
He has served as President of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and President of the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance. He is also a member of The American Physiological Society, The American Society for Cell Biology, and The Biophysical Society.
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