The Peer review has evaluated this group as Excellent
For more than twenty years, the group leaded by prof. Rinaldo Cubeddu has been performing research activity for the development of laser systems and optical detection techniques with ultimate sensitivity and high temporal resolution. Original results were obtained applying optical spectroscopy in the biomedical field, including: - the photophysical characterisation of first and second generation photosensitiing drugs for the photodynamic therapy of tumours - the study of ageing and degeneration processes of the eye, for what concerns both the lens and the retina - the development of a 2-photon technique for the selective damage of DNA. This research line has then led to the development of systems for time-gated fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) and spectroscopy with picosecond and nanosecond resolution. Major results achieved include: - the first FLIM images used both in experimental oncology and clinical diagnosis - the first time-resolved reading of DNA-microarrays - the first FLIM images of paintings, frescos and sculptures. In parallel, the knowledge and the experience gained in handling faint fluorescence signals were exploited in the novel field of Photon Migration in highly diffusive media, where main results were achieved: - the first in vivo absorption and scattering spectra of various biological tissues in the “therapeutic window” (wavelength range 600-1000 nm) - the first optical mammographic images beyond 900 nm for special sensitivity to water and lipid content - the first in vivo absorption spectra of the calcaneous for the optical diagnosis of osteoporosis - the first optical characterisation of key tissue absorbers (fat, collagen) of interest for diagnostic purposes - the first absorption and scattering spectra of the pulp in intact fruits for the nondestructive characterisation of the internal properties Special attention has always been devoted to the development of prototypes and portable instrumentation and to their applications in several fields (e.g. 37 biotechnology, clinical diagnosis, food, cultural heritage, etc.). For example, in the last five years we have developed: - a FLIM system for the detection and classification of skin lesions (used at the San Raffaele Hospital, Milan, Italy) - a multi-wavelength time-resolved optical mammograph used in a European clinical trial at the S. Pio X Clinic (Milan, Italy) - a multi-channel time-resolved tissue oximeter for studies on muscle oxidative metabolism and for the functional imaging of the brain - a prototype for the non-destructive optical characterization of the internal properties of fruit (used by researchers at Horticultural Research International, West Malling, UK) - a nanosecond FLIM system for the monitoring of cultural heritage (used during the recent restoration of the Michelangelo’s David). The international relevance of the group, in terms of both scientific results and development of state-of-the-art instrumentation, was acknowledged by the EC which granted the status of Large Scale Facility to the “Centre for Ultrafast Science and Biomedical Optics” (CUSBO). The research group is in fact the core of the Biomedical Optics section of CUSBO. The group is also part of the Italian National Laboratory for Ultrafast and Ultraintense Optical Science (ULTRAS).
Antonio Giovanni Pifferi