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Abstract
  Biophotonics has emerged as a critical frontier of interdisciplinary science and technology covering a wide spectrum of principles and applications. In basic research, it includes the use of optical and photonics techniques to understand the fundamental physics and chemistry of the functions and the interactions of all biological materials at the genomic, proteomic, sub-cellular and cellular, and tissue and organ levels. In medical applications it can potentially play a critical role in diagnosis, prognosis, prevention, and therapeutics. Education, research, and development in Biophotonics are intrinsically interdisciplinary since they involve physics, chemistry, biomedical, material, digital, electrical and electronics, mechanical, and nano- sciences and technologies.
   
  The was inaugurated in National Yang-Ming University (NYMU) in 2005, after the establishment of the 1st Graduate Institute of Biophotonics in Taiwan at NYMU in 2002. Along with the Genomic Research Center (VYMGC), and the Brain Research center (BRC), BIRC has become the 3rd Center of Excellence of NYMU since 2008. The main objective of BIRC is to promote biophotonics and nano-biophotonics reseach and development by supporting a core facility equipped with advanced photonics tools and techniques and by coordinating related research activities both within NYMU and also through out the country via local and international technical collaborations.

NYMU has been internationally known as one of the top research universities in Taiwan in biomedical sciences and in life science. The Imaging Core (http://www.ym.edu.tw/ustymu) established at NYMU in 2005 was our 1st endeavor to establish selected advanced biophotonics platforms to introduce novel photonics technologies for biomedical applications to researchers in biomedical sciences and in life science. Technically, we have been focusing on living cell microscopy and spectroscopy, including Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM), Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET), and Fluorescence Recovery After Photo-bleaching (FRAP), Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS), photonics manipulation and sensing (including Photonics Force Microscopy (PFM), optical stretcher, oscillatory optical tweezers, and Raman tweezers), laser tissues interactions, Diffused Reflectance Spectroscopy (DRS), Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT),  biomedical imaging (including molecular, genomic, proteomic, cellular, tissue, organ, small animal, and clinical imaging), and Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) biosensing and imaging.  The biomedical problems of interest include pathogen/host-cell interactions, cell mechanics and bio-molecular dynamics, drug screening based on real-time spectroscopic monitoring of the response of bacteria to drugs, and biomedical photonics including photodynamic therapy.

Serving as a key bridge between the biophotonics communities in Taiwan and those in the rest of the world, we have hosted numerous major international biophotonics conferences in Taiwan including the 9th International Conference on Optics Within Life Sciences (OWLS9) in 2006 and the International Conference on Laser Applications in Life Sciences (LALS) in 2008.

In a recent International Advisory Committee Meeting held in 2008, our overall performance was rated as excellence by all the committee members. To quote a specific comment on our research activities by Prof. Shu Chien (from UCSD, USA), a member of the BIRC’s International Advisory Committee, “These studies are at the forefront of molecular and cell biology made possible by using the innovative biophotonics technology developed in BIRC. While it is impressive to have such a wide spectrum of accomplishments, it may be worthwhile to consider probing several selected key biological problem in depth. Also, there is a great potential to apply these sophisticated technologies for clinical utilization”.

In summary, we have been striving to become a Center of Excellence at the National Level and also to serve as a point of contact that connects the biophotonics communities in Taiwan with those in the rest of the world. We have placed not only “NYMU’s BIRC”, but also “Taiwan” in the “Biophotonics World Map”.



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