Jennifer Kehlet Barton

Jennifer Kehlet Barton

Director, BIO5 Institute
Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Engineering
Professor, Agricultural-Biosystems Engineering
Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor, Medical Imaging
Professor, Optical Sciences
Professor, Cancer Biology - GIDP
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Member of the General Faculty
Member of the Graduate Faculty
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


Luo, Y., Castillo, J., Arauz, L., Barton, J., & Kostuk, R. K. (2007). Coupling and cross-talk effects in 12-15 microm diameter single-mode fiber arrays for simultaneous transmission and photon collection from scattering media. Applied optics, 46(2), 253-61.

We examine signal degradation effects in fiber arrays from fiber-to-fiber coupling and from cross talk attributable to backscatter from the sample medium originating from adjacent fibers in the array. An analysis of coupling and cross talk for single-mode fibers (SMFs) operating at 1310 nm with different core diameters, interaction lengths, core center spacing, and numerical apertures (NAs) is evaluated. The coupling was evaluated using beam propagation algorithms and cross talk was analyzed by using Monte Carlo methods. Several multimode fiber types that are currently used in fiber image guides were also evaluated for comparative purposes. The analysis shows that an optimum NA and core diameter can be found for a specific fiber center separation that maximizes the directly backscattered signal relative to the cross talk. The coupling between fibers can be kept less than -35 dB for interaction lengths less than 5 mm. The calculations were compared to an experimentally fabricated SMF array with 15 microm center spacing and showed good agreement. The experimental fiber array without a lens was also used in a coherent detection configuration to measure the position of a mirror. Accurate depth ranging up to a distance of 250 microm from the tip of the fiber was achieved, which was five times the Rayleigh range of the beam emitted from the fiber.

Troutman, T. S., Barton, J. K., & Romanowski, M. (2007). Optical coherence tomography with plasmon resonant nanorods of gold. Optics letters, 32(11), 1438-40.

We explored plasmon resonant nanorods of gold as a contrast agent for optical coherence tomography (OCT). Nanorod suspensions were generated through wet chemical synthesis and characterized with spectrophotometry, transmission electron microscopy, and OCT. Polyacrylamide-based phantoms were generated with appropriate scattering and anisotropy coefficients (30 cm(-1) and 0.89, respectively) to image distribution of the contrast agent in an environment similar to that of tissue. The observed signal was dependent on whether the plasmon resonance peak overlapped the source bandwidth of the OCT, confirming the resonant character of enhancement. Gold nanorods with plasmon resonance wavelengths overlapping the OCT source yielded a signal-to-background ratio of 4.5 dB, relative to the tissue phantom. Strategies for OCT imaging with nanorods are discussed.

Barton, J., Gossage, K. W., Smith, C. M., Kanter, E. M., Hariri, L. P., Stone, A. L., Rodriguez, J. J., Williams, S. K., & Barton, J. K. (2006). Texture analysis of speckle in optical coherence tomography images of tissue phantoms. Physics in medicine and biology, 51(6).

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an imaging modality capable of acquiring cross-sectional images of tissue using back-reflected light. Conventional OCT images have a resolution of 10-15 microm, and are thus best suited for visualizing tissue layers and structures. OCT images of collagen (with and without endothelial cells) have no resolvable features and may appear to simply show an exponential decrease in intensity with depth. However, examination of these images reveals that they display a characteristic repetitive structure due to speckle. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the application of statistical and spectral texture analysis techniques for differentiating living and non-living tissue phantoms containing various sizes and distributions of scatterers based on speckle content in OCT images. Statistically significant differences between texture parameters and excellent classification rates were obtained when comparing various endothelial cell concentrations ranging from 0 cells/ml to 25 million cells/ml. Statistically significant results and excellent classification rates were also obtained using various sizes of microspheres with concentrations ranging from 0 microspheres/ml to 500 million microspheres/ml. This study has shown that texture analysis of OCT images may be capable of differentiating tissue phantoms containing various sizes and distributions of scatterers.

Barton, J., Gossage, K. W., Tkaczyk, T. S., Rodriguez, J. J., & Barton, J. K. (2003). Texture analysis of optical coherence tomography images: feasibility for tissue classification. Journal of biomedical optics, 8(3).

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) acquires cross-sectional images of tissue by measuring back-reflected light. Images from in vivo OCT systems typically have a resolution of 10 to 15 mm, and are thus best suited for visualizing structures in the range of tens to hundreds of microns, such as tissue layers or glands. Many normal and abnormal tissues lack visible structures in this size range, so it may appear that OCT is unsuitable for identification of these tissues. However, examination of structure-poor OCT images reveals that they frequently display a characteristic texture that is due to speckle. We evaluated the application of statistical and spectral texture analysis techniques for differentiating tissue types based on the structural and speckle content in OCT images. Excellent correct classification rates were obtained when images had slight visual differences (mouse skin and fat, correct classification rates of 98.5 and 97.3%, respectively), and reasonable rates were obtained with nearly identical-appearing images (normal versus abnormal mouse lung, correct classification rates of 64.0 and 88.6%, respectively). This study shows that texture analysis of OCT images may be capable of differentiating tissue types without reliance on visible structures.

Wall, R. A., Bonnema, G. T., & Barton, J. K. (2011). Novel focused OCT-LIF endoscope. BIOMEDICAL OPTICS EXPRESS, 2(3), 421-430.