Research

We are a multi-disciplinary research group focused on developing quantitative biomarkers for non-invasive, real-time assessments of tissue structure and function to diagnose disease or trauma and guide therapies. To this end, our group integrates multi-photon microscopy, advanced image analysis, and soft-tissue mechanics to provide a more complete understanding of structure-function relationships.

Our research efforts are primarily focused on understanding the underlying mechanisms of abnormalities in the wound healing process. Each year, millions of Americans are treated for non-healing wounds, with billions of dollars spent on advanced skin wound care. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, aging, infection, and mechanical forces all can contribute to delays or problems with the healing process. Although a variety of different therapies have been explored, diabetic foot ulcers remain deadlier than many common cancers. Thus there is a critical need to develop new biomarkers to guide care in the clinic and product development in the lab.

Non-invasive, label-free multiphoton microscopy can provide a variety of quantitative biomarkers associated with different tissue characteristics during wound repair. This imaging approach can provide a unique understanding of the inherently dynamic process of wound healing due to its non-destructive nature and can supplement the current laboratory tools used in basic science research on repair and regeneration. By quantifying the endogenous two-photon excited fluorescence of NADH and FAD, we can measure dynamic changes in the metabolism of different cell populations in 3D. Second harmonic generation imaging can also provide a non-invasive measure of collagen organization with in 3D tissues, and advanced imaged analysis techniques are utilized to quantify fiber morphology, orientation, and organization. Additionally, through a combination of multi-scale imaging of tissue structure and mechanical testing, we aim to elucidate the relationships among cell metabolism, extracellular matrix organization, and mechanical function.

Although the primary lab initiatives are currently focusing on wound healing applications, we are always interested in collaborating with researchers in other areas where non-invasive metabolic imaging or the advanced image analysis of tissue microstructure are needed. We have previous research experience in utilizing our imaging methods in biomechanics, biomaterials, tissue engineering, cardiovascular, and cancer applications.

For more information, please contact Dr. Kyle Quinn (kpquinn AT uark.edu).