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

Chalut, K. J., et al. “Detection of structural and functional changes in biological materials using angle-resolved low coherence interferometry.” Progress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging  Proceedings of Spie, vol. 6864, Apr. 2008. Scopus, doi:10.1117/12.764213. Full Text

Graf, R. N., et al. “Measuring neoplastic transformation in the hamster cheek pouch using Fourier domain low coherence interferometry.” Progress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging  Proceedings of Spie, vol. 6864, Apr. 2008. Scopus, doi:10.1117/12.764045. Full Text

Terry, N. G., et al. “Development of a clinical Fourier-domain angle resolved low coherence interferometry system for in vivo measurements.” Progress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging  Proceedings of Spie, vol. 6864, Apr. 2008. Scopus, doi:10.1117/12.763782. Full Text

Nusz, Greg J., et al. “Label-free plasmonic detection of biomolecular binding by a single gold nanorod.Analytical Chemistry, vol. 80, no. 4, Feb. 2008, pp. 984–89. Epmc, doi:10.1021/ac7017348. Full Text

Zhu, Y., et al. “Design and verification of an endoscopic pre-cancer detection system based on angle-resolved low coherence interferometry (a/LCI).” Biomedical Optics, Biomed 2008, Jan. 2008. Scopus, doi:10.1364/biomed.2008.btuc8. Full Text

Brown, W. J., et al. “Review and recent development of angle-resolved low-coherence interferometry for detection of precancerous cells in human esophageal epithelium.” Ieee Journal on Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, vol. 14, no. 1, Jan. 2008, pp. 88–96. Scopus, doi:10.1109/JSTQE.2007.913969. Full Text

Giacomelli, M., et al. “A comparison of mie theory and the t-matrix method for estimating the size of cell nuclei.” Biomedical Optics, Biomed 2008, Jan. 2008. Scopus, doi:10.1364/biomed.2008.btuf6. Full Text

Curry, Adam C., et al. “Molecular imaging of epidermal growth factor receptor in live cells with refractive index sensitivity using dark-field microspectroscopy and immunotargeted nanoparticles.Journal of Biomedical Optics, vol. 13, no. 1, Jan. 2008, p. 014022. Epmc, doi:10.1117/1.2837450. Full Text

Wax, A. “Darkfield microspectroscopy: From single nanoparticle biosensing to live cell molecular imaging.” Biomedical Optics, Biomed 2008, Jan. 2008. Scopus, doi:10.1364/biomed.2008.bsua2. Full Text

Wax, Adam, and John W. Pyhtila. “In situ nuclear morphology measurements using light scattering as biomarkers of neoplastic change in animal models of carcinogenesis.Disease Markers, vol. 25, no. 6, Jan. 2008, pp. 291–301. Epmc, doi:10.1155/2008/584101. Full Text