Soon after conception, an embryo's circulatory system connects to that of its mother.
Complications that occur at this critical time can result in miscarriage or birth defects with long-term chronic conditions.
Researchers from the University of Houston and Baylor College of Medicine are developing a new technology to allow simultaneous imaging of both embryonic structural development and the molecular underpinnings that occur in the developing circulatory system.
David Mayerich, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UH, is leading the $3.7 million project funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, with Kirill Larin, professor of biomedical engineering at UH; Mary Dickinson, professor of molecular physiology and biophysics at Baylor; and Joshua Wythe, assistant professor of molecular physiology at Baylor.
"When you look at an embryo, things happen at two scales, structural and molecular," Mayerich said.
Even a short time lag between images taken with OCT and microscopy can make it impossible to synchronize the structural and chemical changes, said Mayerich, whose work involves the application of data science to microscopy, allowing for high resolution imaging at massive scales.