Jennifer Kehlet Barton
Director, BIO5 Institute
Professor, Agricultural-Biosystems Engineering
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor, Medical Imaging
Professor, Optical Sciences
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 626-0314
Work Summary
I develop new optical imaging devices that can detect cancer at the earliest stage. Optics has the resolution and sensitivity to find these small, curable lesions, and we design the endoscope that provide access to organs inside the body. .
Research Interest
Jennifer Barton, Ph.D. is known for her development of miniature endoscopes that combine multiple optical imaging techniques,particularly optical coherence tomography and fluorescence spectroscopy. She evaluates the suitability of these endoscopic techniques for detecting early cancer development in patients and pre-clinical models. She has a particular interest in the early detection of ovarian cancer, the most deadly gynecological malignancy. Additionally, her research into light-tissue interaction and dynamic optical properties of blood laid the groundwork for a novel therapeutic laser to treat disorders of the skin’s blood vessels. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed journal papers in these research areas. She is currently Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Optical Sciences, Agriculture-Biosystems Engineering, and Medical Imaging at the University of Arizona. She has served as department head of Biomedical Engineering, Associate Vice President for Research, and is currently Director of the BIO5 Institute, a collaborative research institute dedicated to solving complex biology-based problems affecting humanity. She is a fellow of SPIE – the International Optics Society, and a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. Keywords: bioimaging, biomedical optics, biomedical engineering, bioengineering, cancer, endoscopes


LeGendre-McGhee, S., Rice, P., Wall, R. A., Klein, J., Luttman, A., Sprute, K., Gerner, E., & Barton, J. K. (2012). Endoscopic spectral domain optical coherence tomography of murine colonic morphology to determine effectiveness of chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agents in colorectal cancer. ENDOSCOPIC MICROSCOPY VII, 8217.
Hoyer, P. B., Davis, J. R., Bedrnicek, J. B., Marion, S. L., Christian, P. J., Barton, J. K., & Brewer, M. A. (2009). Ovarian neoplasm development by 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA) in a chemically-induced rat model of ovarian failure. Gynecologic oncology, 112(3), 610-5.

The objectives were to determine the time course for ovarian failure in rats caused by 4-vinylcyclohexene diepoxide (VCD) and develop a model for ovarian cancer in which ovarian neoplasms were chemically induced in an animal that was follicle depleted, but retained residual ovarian tissue.

Black, K. C., Kirkpatrick, N. D., Troutman, T. S., Xu, L., Vagner, J., Gillies, R. J., Barton, J. K., Utzinger, U., & Romanowski, M. (2008). Gold nanorods targeted to delta opioid receptor: plasmon-resonant contrast and photothermal agents. Molecular imaging, 7(1), 50-7.

Molecularly targeted gold nanorods were investigated for applications in both diagnostic imaging and disease treatment with cellular resolution. The nanorods were tested in two genetically engineered cell lines derived from the human colon carcinoma HCT-116, a model for studying ligand-receptor interactions. One of these lines was modified to express delta opioid receptor (deltaOR) and green fluorescent protein, whereas the other was receptor free and expressed a red fluorescent protein, to serve as the control. Deltorphin, a high-affinity ligand for deltaOR, was stably attached to the gold nanorods through a thiol-terminated linker. In a mixed population of cells, we demonstrated selective imaging and destruction of receptor-expressing cells while sparing those cells that did not express the receptor. The molecularly targeted nanorods can be used as an in vitro ligand-binding and cytotoxic treatment assay platform and could potentially be applied in vivo for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes with endoscopic technology.

Leung, S. J., Rice, P. S., & Barton, J. K. (2015). In vivo molecular mapping of the tumor microenvironment in an azoxymethane-treated mouse model of colon carcinogenesis. Lasers in surgery and medicine, 47(1), 40-9.

Development of miniaturized imaging systems with molecular probes enables examination of molecular changes leading to initiation and progression of colorectal cancer in an azoxymethane (AOM)-induced mouse model of the disease. Through improved and novel studies of animal disease models, more effective diagnostic and treatment strategies may be developed for clinical translation. We introduce use of a miniaturized multimodal endoscope with lavage-delivered fluorescent probes to examine dynamic microenvironment changes in an AOM-treated mouse model.

Wall, R. A., & Barton, J. K. (2014). Oblique incidence reflectometry: optical models and measurements using a side-viewing gradient index lens-based endoscopic imaging system. Journal of biomedical optics, 19(6), 067002.

A side-viewing, 2.3-mm diameter oblique incidence reflectometry endoscope has been designed to obtain optical property measurements of turbid samples. Light from a single-mode fiber is relayed obliquely onto the tissue with a gradient index lens-based distal optics assembly and the resulting diffuse reflectance profile is imaged and collected with a 30,000 element, 0.72 mm clear aperture fiber bundle. Sampling the diffuse reflectance in two-dimensions allows for fitting of the reflected intensity profile to a well-known theoretical model, permitting the extraction of both absorption and reduced scattering coefficients of the tissue sample. Models and measurements of the endoscopic imaging system are presented in tissue phantoms and in vivo mouse colon, verifying the endoscope's capabilities to accurately measure effective attenuation coefficient and differentiate diseased from normal colon.