The Mystery of Light

Light defines our universe: on the largest of scales, it is the ultimate speed limit of the universe; on a very small scale, it gave rise to the birth of quantum theory; on a human scale, sunlight is the primary source of energy for all life on Earth.

  • Light is deeply embedded in the human psyche, in every culture and every religion. To be "enlightened" is to truly see and understand.
  • What is light?  Photons can be seen as communication between molecules.  When you gaze on a star, it stimulates biochemistry in your retina by photons that have spent millions of years traversing the void of space. Our knowledge of stars is built on photons from outer space.
  • In a similar way, photons from "inner space" can tell us what is going on with molecules inside ourselves (i.e., diagnosis), and light can directly change what goes on in there (i.e., therapy).  In this age of molecular biology and medicine, light is an exceedingly powerful tool – and is just beginning to be tapped.  There are many true mysteries and many opportunities to actually help people using light. 
  • It is critical that medicine must soon be simultaneously better, faster, more available, and more affordable. Optical technologies have recently become versatile, robust and inexpensive, and are being developed at a rapidly increasing rate. 

Powerful and Selective Chemistry

Our goal is to develop light-activated treatments for cancer, infection, wound repair, rapid healing, tissue engineering, and many other human diseases. Light drives human biochemistry, in ways both good and bad for our health.

  • ultraviolet light causes the most common human cancer
  • light regulates your mood
  • light creates vitamin D
  • light kills bacteria and parasites
  • light has mysterious benefits for wound healing, pain, stroke, and blood flow

Seeing Inside Living Tissue

We are providing amazing new imaging technologies for research, diagnosis and treatment, treatments undreamed of only a few years ago.  We intend to make these technologies and treatments both life-saving and affordable.

  • Fast, harmless, accurate, high-resolution, point-of-care medical imaging
  • Optical tomography catheters invented and built at Wellman Center are providing the best views yet of the developed world’s number-one killer disease: atherosclerosis.
  • Endoscopes the size of a human hair have recently been demonstrated
  • See-and-treat smart surgery devices have been designed to become a new treatment platform
  • Advanced microscopes at Wellman can track stem cells, molecules, immune responses, and gene expression

The World's Most Precise Surgery

Popular laser treatments for skin problems, kidney stones, and eye diseases were developed at Wellman Center.

  • More effective and safer lasers are now being developed for use throughout the body.
  • Pulses of light can act as "magic bullets" in tissue, for removal of abnormal blood vessels, of pigmented cells, unwanted fat, glands, nanoparticles, and vocal cord cancers. Wellman pioneered this approach.
  • Fractional (laser microbeam) treatments that stimulate tissue to renew itself, invented and developed here, are now widely used for skin problems.  We are currently developing this approach for other organs. 
  • We are working to integrate laser treatment and imaging technologies into an entirely new surgical paradigm.