Gratton Wins Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award

Enrico Gratton has won the 2021 Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award from the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE).

March 15, 2021 - The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) recognized Enrico Gratton with the 2021 Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award at the SPIE Photonics West virtual conference in March. The award cited Gratton’s significant contributions to biophotonics – the science of producing and utilizing photons or light to image, identify and engineer biological materials. SPIE specifically noted his development of innovative ultrafast optical imaging and spectroscopy methods and their integration into microfluidic platforms.

This award was “a great honor” for Gratton who considers Chance, for whom the award was named, a “great friend.” In his presentation at the conference, Gratton shared his own experiences in meeting Chance, a National Academy of Sciences member and an Olympic gold medalist in sailing who died in 2010, and doing research together.

Gratton is a professor of biomedical engineering and principal investigator for UC Irvine’s Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics. A pioneer in the field of biomedical optics, Gratton’s achievements include development of the following technologies: multifrequency phase fluorometry, pulsed-source methods for frequency-domain fluorescence spectroscopy, generalized polarization to study cell membranes, spectral fluorescence lifetime measurements for cell physiology, photo-density waves, quantitative tissue oximetry with near-infrared spectroscopy and optical brain imaging.

During his more than 40-year career, Gratton has disseminated his work to researchers worldwide, trained younger scientists and interfaced successfully with industry. Under his guidance, more than 50 students have earned doctorates, with most currently occupying critical roles in academia and at various research institutions. An original contributor at SPIE conferences, Gratton was one of the earliest active participants at the Fluorescence and Near Infrared Biomedical Instrumentation Conference during the inception of what would become SPIE Photonics West.

“I thank the selection committee for awarding me the prestigious Britton Chance award,” said Gratton during his speech at the conference. “I also thank Brit for being a phenomenal mentor and for his enthusiasm for science and for being the great athlete that he was. I also want to thank SPIE for giving me the opportunity of talking about Britton Chance and to share how great he was as a scientist and as an athlete.”

The SPIE Britton Chance Award in Biomedical Optics is presented annually in recognition of outstanding lifetime contributions to the field of biomedical optics through the development of innovative, high impact technologies. The award particularly honors pioneering contributions to optical methods and devices that have facilitated advancements in biology or medicine.

– Lori Brandt