Faces of Photonics: Professor of Medical Physics and Photonics West Hot Topics Speaker, Clare Elwell

Elwell thinks outside the box when it comes to applications of her technology, specifically how they can address global health challenges.

28 January 2019

Clare Elwell, University College LondonMeet Clare Elwell, Professor of Medical Physics at University College London (UCL), Director of the Near Infrared Spectroscopy Group in the Biomedical Optics Research Lab, and global health advocate.

Elwell will speak on "New Frontiers in Near-infrared Spectroscopy," at the 2019 SPIE Photonics West BiOS Conference on 2 February at 7:00 PM.

Elwell has dedicated herself to thinking outside the box when it comes to applications of her technology, specifically how it they can address global health challenges. For the Gates Foundation-funded BRIGHT (BRain Imaging for Global HealTh) project, for example, she and her team use Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) to investigate the impact of malnutrition on infant brain development in The Gambia, as well as conducting the first brain imaging of infants in Africa. "We had been using NIRS for decades in high-resource settings, unaware of the unmet need for it in a global health project," says Elwell. "It is inspiring to see how the community has responded to our efforts. Now, Global fNIRS is an entire new research field."

Leading BRIGHT isn't the only globally focused project Elwell is involved in. She founded YoSA (Young Scientists for Africa) in order to provide African students with an opportunity to take part in international science event. "I attended the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) when I was 17, and it genuinely changed my life," she says. In fact, Elwell is currently president of the LIYSF. "Africa is chronically under-represented at international science events, yet Africa's young scientists are critical to changing the future of the continent. YoSA scholarships provide them with a life-changing opportunity to connect with and learn from international science leaders, and to collaborate with other talented young scientists from all over the world. Ideally, meeting at such events also builds a network of young African scientists who then connect at initiatives such as the Next Einstein Forum."

Elwell works with families in The Gambia to deliver the first-ever brain-imaging scans of children in Africa

TALKIN' 'BOUT THE NEXT GENERATION: Elwell works with families in The Gambia to deliver the first-ever brain-imaging scans of children in Africa

Read the rest of Elwell's interview with SPIE's Faces of Photonics!

 

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