Adam P. Wax

Adam P. Wax

Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Professor of Physics (Secondary)

Faculty Network Member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Member of the Duke Cancer Institute

Bass Fellow

Office Location: 
2571 CIEMAS, Durham, NC 27708
Front Office Address: 
Box 90281, Durham, NC 27708-0281
(919) 660-5143


Dr. Wax's research interests include optical spectroscopy for early cancer detection, novel microscopy and
interferometry techniques.

The study of intact, living cells with optical spectroscopy offers the opportunity to observe cellular structure, organization and dynamics in a way that is not possible with traditional methods. We have developed a set of novel spectroscopic techniques for measuring spatial, temporal and refractive structure on sub-hertz and sub-wavelength scales based on using low-coherence interferometry (LCI) to detect scattered light. We have applied these techniques in different types of cell biology experiments. In one experiment, LCI measurements of the angular pattern of backscattered light are used to determine non-invasively the structure of sub-cellular organelles in cell monolayers, and the components of epithelial tissue from freshly excised rat esophagus. This work has potential as a diagnostic method for early cancer detection. In another experiment, LCI phase measurements are used to examine volume changes of epithelial cells in a monolayer in response to environmental osmolarity changes. Although cell volume changes have been measured previously, this work demonstrates for the first time the volume of just a few cells (2 or 3) tracked continuously and in situ.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Duke University 1999

  • M.A., Duke University 1996

  • B.S., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 1993

Robles, Francisco E., et al. “Molecular imaging true-colour spectroscopic optical coherence tomography.Nature Photonics, vol. 5, no. 12, Dec. 2011, pp. 744–47. Epmc, doi:10.1038/nphoton.2011.257. Full Text

Robles, Francisco E., et al. “Nonlinear phase dispersion spectroscopy.Optics Letters, vol. 36, no. 23, Dec. 2011, pp. 4665–67. Epmc, doi:10.1364/ol.36.004665. Full Text

Seekell, Kevin, et al. “Hyperspectral molecular imaging of multiple receptors using immunolabeled plasmonic nanoparticles.Journal of Biomedical Optics, vol. 16, no. 11, Nov. 2011, p. 116003. Epmc, doi:10.1117/1.3646529. Full Text

Crow, Matthew J., et al. “Monitoring of receptor dimerization using plasmonic coupling of gold nanoparticles.Acs Nano, vol. 5, no. 11, Nov. 2011, pp. 8532–40. Epmc, doi:10.1021/nn201451c. Full Text

Terry, Neil, et al. “Detection of intestinal dysplasia using angle-resolved low coherence interferometry.J Biomed Opt, vol. 16, no. 10, Oct. 2011, p. 106002. Pubmed, doi:10.1117/1.3631799. Full Text

Drake, Tyler K., et al. “Design and validation of a multiplexed low coherence interferometry instrument for in vivo clinical measurement of microbicide gel thickness distribution.Biomedical Optics Express, vol. 2, no. 10, Oct. 2011, pp. 2850–58. Epmc, doi:10.1364/boe.2.002850. Full Text

Chalut, Kevin J., et al. “Stem cell differentiation indicated by noninvasive photonic characterization and fractal analysis of subcellular architecture.Integrative Biology : Quantitative Biosciences From Nano to Macro, vol. 3, no. 8, Aug. 2011, pp. 863–67. Epmc, doi:10.1039/c1ib00003a. Full Text

Wax, Adam, et al. “Angle-resolved low coherence interferometry for detection of dysplasia in Barrett's esophagus.Gastroenterology, vol. 141, no. 2, Aug. 2011, pp. 443-447.e2. Epmc, doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2011.06.020. Full Text

Giacomelli, M., and A. Wax. “Coherent detection of diffusely scattered light for extending depth using multiply scattered low coherence interferometry.” Progress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging  Proceedings of Spie, vol. 7896, May 2011. Scopus, doi:10.1117/12.874089. Full Text

Rinehart, M. T., et al. “Simultaneous confocal fluorescence microscopy and optical coherence tomography for drug distribution and tissue integrity assessment.” Progress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging  Proceedings of Spie, vol. 7890, May 2011. Scopus, doi:10.1117/12.874986. Full Text