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Prof Clare Elwell
Medical Phys and Bioengineering, UCL
Malet Place Engineering Building, Gower St
Tel: 020 7679 0270
Fax: 020 7679 0255
  • Professor of Medical Physics
  • Dept of Med Phys & Biomedical Eng
  • Faculty of Engineering Science
Research Summary

The Near Infrared Spectroscopy Group in the Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering at UCL has pioneered the development of a range of optical systems for the quantification of cerebral oxygenation, haemodynamics and metabolism. Biological tissue is relatively transparent to light in the near infrared region (700-1000nm) allowing absorption spectroscopy of substantial sections of tissue to determine the relative concentrations of oxy and deoxyhaemoglobin (HbO2 and HHb) and oxidised cytochrome c oxidase (oxCCO). Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) systems can therefore be used to as continuous, regional, non invasive and portable monitors of the healthy and injured brain. Our work encompasses theoretical modelling of both light transport in tissue and cerebral physiology, instrument design and construction and the development of novel tissue-like phantoms for laboratory based testing. This work is in varying stages of clinical trials and is currently funded by a range of EPSRC, MRC and Wellcome Trust grants and industrial collaborations with Hamamatsu Photonics and Hitachi Medical Systems. Importantly we have a strong record of transferring laboratory-based research into the clinic. Our NIRS systems are currently being used to monitor adult brain injured patients on the Neurocritical Care Unit at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery where we are investigating their role as part of a multi modal monitoring strategy which includes invasive brain tissue oxygen tension, intracranial pressure and cerebral microdialysis measures. We are currently working on the development of a novel dual channel broadband frequency resolved spectrometer optimised specifically for the measurement of oxidised cytochrome c oxidase as a marker of cellular oxygen metabolism in the adult brain. In collaboration with Great Ormond Street Hospital we are also monitoring cerebral oxygenation in infants and children undergoing cardiothoracic procedures such as extra corporeal membrane oxygenation. NIRS can be used to measure the haemodynamic response to neuronal activity and as such the technique has found widespread use as a monitor of functional activation in both adults and infants. We have used a range of multi channel NIRS systems to characterise the haemodynamic status of the resting and activated brain. In collaboration with the Centre of Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck College we are monitoring prefrontal activity in young infants during visual processing and are continuing to provide solutions for issues such as probe placement, motion artifact and multi channel signal analysis in neurodevelopment paradigms.

Academic Background
1995 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Medical Physics University of London
1990 M.Phil Master of Philosophy – Medical Physics University of Exeter
1988 BSc Hons Bachelor of Science (Honours) – Physics with Medical Physics University of Exeter
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