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

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

Shaked, N. T., et al. “Whole cell imaging based on wide-field interferometric phase microscopy and its application to cardiomyocytes.” Progress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging  Proceedings of Spie, vol. 7904, Apr. 2011. Scopus, doi:10.1117/12.874224. Full Text

Crow, M. J., et al. “Hyperspectral molecular imaging of multiple receptors using immunolabeled plasmonic nanoparticles.” Progress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging  Proceedings of Spie, vol. 7911, Apr. 2011. Scopus, doi:10.1117/12.874093. Full Text

Giacomelli, M., et al. “Determining size, shape, and orientation of non-spherical scatterers using the fiber optic interferometric two-dimensional scattering (FITS) system.” Progress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging  Proceedings of Spie, vol. 7907, Mar. 2011. Scopus, doi:10.1117/12.874081. Full Text

Robles, F. E., et al. “Fourier domain low coherence interferometry for detection of early colorectal cancer development in the AOM rat model.” Progress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging  Proceedings of Spie, vol. 7907, Mar. 2011. Scopus, doi:10.1117/12.872929. Full Text

Shaked, Natan T., et al. “Quantitative microscopy and nanoscopy of sickle red blood cells performed by wide field digital interferometry.J Biomed Opt, vol. 16, no. 3, Mar. 2011, p. 030506. Pubmed, doi:10.1117/1.3556717. Full Text

Crow, Matthew J., et al. “Polarization mapping of nanoparticle plasmonic coupling.Optics Letters, vol. 36, no. 5, Mar. 2011, pp. 757–59. Epmc, doi:10.1364/ol.36.000757. Full Text

Zhu, Yizheng, et al. “Spectral-domain differential interference contrast microscopy.Optics Letters, vol. 36, no. 4, Feb. 2011, pp. 430–32. Epmc, doi:10.1364/ol.36.000430. Full Text

Giacomelli, Michael G., and Adam Wax. “Imaging beyond the ballistic limit in coherence imaging using multiply scattered light.Optics Express, vol. 19, no. 5, Feb. 2011, pp. 4268–79. Epmc, doi:10.1364/oe.19.004268. Full Text

Wax, Adam, and Kevin J. Chalut. “Nuclear morphology measurements with angle-resolved low coherence interferometry for application to cell biology and early cancer detection.Analytical Cellular Pathology (Amsterdam), vol. 34, no. 5, Jan. 2011, pp. 207–22. Epmc, doi:10.3233/acp-2011-0017. Full Text