Jennifer K. Barton Proposed Statement of Research
Jennifer Kehlet Barton
University of Texas at Austin

My research involves using a novel imaging technique called Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) together with 3-D reconstruction techniques to map the depth, diameter, and distribution of blood vessels in the skin. OCT has only been used for biomedical purposes for about 5 years. To my knowledge, I am the first person to successfully use this technique to obtain images of blood vessels in skin (50 micrometer arterioles in rat dorsal dermis). Making the system work on human skin, with capillaries as small as 10 micrometers, will be a challenge of my research. My research will form the needed basis for a highly informative

The OCT technique uses a special light emitting diode and an interferometer to measure light reflection from a small volume of tissue. OCT is unique in that it can see relatively deep into the skin with very high resolution. At the University of Texas at Austin Biomedical Engineering Laser Laboratory, we are building an OCT device for use in imaging skin. Eventually, such devices could be made portable, and with the 3-D reconstruction software I am developing, be used on the Shuttle or Space Station to map the changes in crew skin microcirculation over time. OCT could also be used to elucidate the differences in microcirculation development of experimental animals or embryos raised in low gravity as compared to earth gravity. For instance, the variation in time of vessel branching patterns, or the diameters of arterioles and venules, could be measured in the crew. Or, if a portion of the opaque shell of a chicken egg is removed, OCT could see through the membranes and egg white to harmlessly probe the growing embryo.

My research also has a multitude of terrestrial applications. I am planning on investigating port wine stains, a congenital malformation of skin blood vessels. Others at UT are interested in applying OCT to studies of retina laser treatment and cervical cancer. I am currently concentrating on imaging rat skin blood vessels. I have submitted a journal article on a comparative study of rat skin blood vessel imaging by OCT, confocal microscopy, and conventional histology. The results show that OCT data are agreement with conventional measurement methods. I am looking forward to perfecting my imaging technique and the reconstruction software in the coming year.


Wednesday, 26-Mar-2003 21:48:21 CST