Colloquium: Adela Ben-Yakar

    Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm
    Meinel 307

    "Image-Guided Ultrafast Laser Scalpel for Precise, Selective and Minimally Invasive Surgery"


    The fundamental goal in surgery is to remove unwanted tissue while preserving healthy tissue. Preserving healthy tissue is especially important in delicate areas for retaining as much functionality as possible while speeding up recovery. Ablation with ultrashort laser pulses (pulses below 10 picoseconds) provides unprecedented microsurgical precision in tissue with minimal thermal and mechanical side effects. However, the application of this surgical method has been limited to ophthalmological applications mainly because of the lack of fiber optic delivery of amplified ultrafast laser pulses to the surgical site through a flexible, miniaturized probe. Taking on this challenge, we have developed two MEMS‐based miniaturized endoscopic probes where the ultrashort laser pulses are delivered through aircore photonic bandgap fibers. Using these endoscopes, we demonstrated successful ablation and nonlinear imaging of cells and tissue with high resolution. More recently, we have been working on new designs with smaller housing diameters, employing piezoelectric and micromotor-based light scanning for a number of applications such as the treatment of scarred vocal folds. Translation of this disruptive technology into the clinic will have a transformative effect on the way that we treat patients in the surgery room. By minimizing collateral tissue damage normally associated with surgical procedures, the new techniques will suppress scar formation, healing time and post‐surgery pain, thereby helping to preserve anatomic functionality at the surgical treatment site and improve patients’ care.

    Speaker Bio(s): 

    Adela Ben-Yakar received her B.S. and M.S. in engineering at the Technion, Israeli Institute of Technology, and her Ph.D. from Stanford University. She completed postdoctoral work in Stanford's department of applied physics and Harvard University's physics department. She is currently an associate professor at the University of Texas, Austin. Her research interests are in ultrafast laser microsurgery, nonlinear microscopy, endoscopic image-guided laser microsurgery, plasmonic laser nanosurgery, multiphoton luminescence imaging, integrated optical and microfluidic platforms for high-throughput whole-animal screening for nerve regeneration and degenerative diseases such Alzheimer’s, and stem cell studies at a single-cell level. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a National Institutes of Health Director’s Transformative Award and an international award from the Human Frontier Science Program. She is a fellow of the Optical Society (OSA). Her work on ultrafast laser microsurgery and nerve regeneration has been published in high-impact journals and highlighted in various press channels, such as ABC News, Wired Magazine, KXAN News, Inside Science Television, Long Horn TV, KUT 90.5 Austin radio, Telegraph UK, Science, Nature Methods, New Scientist, BioPhotonics Magazine, Popular Science Magazine, Ha’aretz and more.