Riverside Research established an Independent Research and Development (IR&D) program in 2011 in order to expand laboratory capabilities to meet anticipated customer requirements and position the company as a leader in emerging technologies. To that end, IR&D funding was used to create an Optics Laboratory within the Lizzi Center for Biomedical Engineering, resulting in three core facilities: (1) a custom-designed spectrophotometer, (2) an all-optical, non-contact photoacoustic system, and (3) a hybrid diagnostic system for ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging. These facilities were used to collect pilot data for generating peer-reviewed publications that strengthen the Lizzi Center’s qualifications in the field of optics research and aid in preparation of new grant applications. This IR&D strategic initiative also enabled the procurement and assembly of optical components to integrate photoacoustic imaging with existing high-frequency ultrasound imaging systems at off-site locations.
Initial grant applications stemming from the Optics Laboratory are aligned with traditional Lizzi Center expertise; namely, the detection, imaging, and treatment of disease through advanced ultrasonic and optical techniques. However, efforts are underway to expand the scope of Optics Laboratory capabilities to include industrial and defense-related applications such as remote sensing, nondestructive evaluation of materials, and material characterization.
One optics-related grant application – Quantitative photoacoustics for detection of micro-metastases in excised lymph nodes – has already been funded by the National Institutes of Health and two more are under evaluation.