Biophotonics and Microscopy

Program manager: Prof.dr. Johannes F. de Boer

The long-term goal of the research is to develop the next generation optical techniques for the diagnosis, understanding, and treatment of disease.

In clinical medicine, significant progress in screening, diagnosis and treatment has been fuelled by the exact sciences and has for instance led to imaging techniques such as X-ray or Computed Tomography, positron emission tomography, ultrasound imaging and magnetic resonance imaging. Optical techniques have the advantages of using non-ionizing radiation, being non- or minimally invasive with unprecedented resolution (down to molecular level), and having the capability of spectroscopic analysis of tissue. In the Biomedical Optics group basic science experts and leading clinicians work together closely to develop and evaluate in clinical practice new instruments for (endoscopic) in vivo optical diagnosis (“The Optical Biopsy”). In vivo diagnosis provides the platform for immediate treatment with minimally invasive instrumentation, which leads tot improved care and cost reduction.

The key for successful clinical acceptance of new optical techniques is the quantification of (physiological) relevant parameters for disease characterization. Therefore, the determination of optical diagnostic criteria like the path-length that the light has traveled, scattering and absorption, fluorescence, birefringence and molecular vibrations in tissue in combination with appropriate and novel spectroscopic techniques and localized treatments will be an important challenge.

These objectives are being realized by bringing together Sciences Departments and Medical Centers to create a multidisciplinary environment of MD’s and PhD’s promoting close collaboration and feedback.

Current collaborations include the Rotterdam Eye Hospital and the Rotterdam Ophthalmic Institute (link), the VUmc and in particular the department of pulmonology at the VUmc (Dr. T. Sutedja) and the Neuroscience center.

The research is supported by grants from the European Community (Laserlab Europe), National Institute of Health (NIH: 1R21RR023139-01A2) The Foundation for Fundamental Research (FOM: 09NIG 03) and ZonMW (VICI, career award) to Dr. de Boer.

VU University Medical Imaging Center

Medische Fotonica



We have positions available for graduate students and Postdoctoral fellows with a background in optics and/or microscopy and affinity with biomedical research.

Please contact Prof. dr. Johannes F. de Boer for further information (