Professor A.G.J.M. van Leeuwen (1963) has been named Professor by Special Appointment of Biomedical Photonics in the Faculty of Medicine at the Academic Medical Centre of the University of Amsterdam (AMC-UvA).
Ton van Leeuwen's research focuses on the physical interaction between light and biological tissue. This interaction forms the basis for the use of light and optical technologies in medicine, such as in medical imaging techniques. In current clinical practice, imaging techniques are an essential tool in the diagnostic process in a wide variety of medical applications, including ophthalmology, gastroenterology, cardiology, oncology and dermatology. The interaction between light and tissue forms the basis for the development of novel imaging techniques, such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) and photoacoustics. This interaction also permits the assessment of functional information from the tissue, such as tissue oxygen saturation or perfusion. With high-resolution imaging techniques, this functional information can be obtained on a cellular and molecular level.
The laser centre of the AMC conducts research to obtain quantitative functional and morphological information from tissue by developing novel technologies to probe the interaction of tissue with light. For true quantification, it is imperative to know the optical path length of multiply scattered light. Consequently, a central part of the research is aimed at using techniques and models to estimate these optical path lengths. In addition, novel optical contrast agents are used to investigate the possibilities for obtaining molecular information. These contrast agents, which are typically based on small (tens of nanometres) particles linked to specific antibodies that allow the contrast agent to target certain cells, can be detected with optical imaging techniques. Biomedical Photonics is an interdisciplinary research field which bridges medicine, physics, optics, biochemistry, biomedical technology and imaging technology.
Following the completion of his MSc in Physics at the UvA, Van Leeuwen has focused his research efforts on the interface between physics and medicine. He has been affiliated with the Biomedical Technological Institute at the University of Twente as Professor in the Clinical Application of Biomedical Optics since 2001. Additionally, he has been a staff member of the AMC Laser Centre since 1998. Prior to this van Leeuwen was involved in various research projects at the Interuniversity Cardiology Institute of the Netherlands (ICIN) at the KNAW. In 1997 and 1998, supported by a grant from the ICIN, he investigated the potential of optical coherence tomography in the endoscopy laboratory at Case Western Reverse University and at the Cleveland University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Professor van Leeuwen completed his PhD research in the Experimental Cardiology Laboratory in the Utrecht Medical Centre.