Lingyan Shi

2018 Regional Award Winner — Post-Doc

Lingyan Shi

Current Position:
Assistant Professor of Bioengineering

University of California, San Diego (Previously at Columbia University)

Atomic, Molecular & Optical Physics

Recognized for: Pioneering work that applies novel optical techniques for neuroscience and cancer research, including recent discovery of the “Golden Optical Window” for deep brain imaging, and a breakthrough platform for imaging metabolic activities in situ.

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise:

Optical Microscopy and Spectroscopy technologies, Deep Imaging in Brain and Neurovascular Coupling System, Biophotonics on Metabolism and Early Cancer Detection, Drug delivery

Lingyan Shi


PhD, Biomedical Engineering, The City College of New York
MS, Biomedical Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology

Dr. Lingyan Shi’s pioneering work in developing and applying novel optical techniques has led to a number of significant breakthroughs in biophotonics with major implications for the fields of neuroscience and cancer research and is allowing us to visualize the mechanisms underlying everyday processes and disease. One of Dr. Shi’s most significant discoveries has been the development of a new experimental technique that combines heavy water labeling and a relatively new imaging method, stimulated Raman scattering microscopy, to probe the metabolic activities of living tissues at subcellular resolution in situ. This discovery facilitates the visualization of tumor boundaries, embryonic development, and even aging in biological tissue. Another significant scientific contribution is her discovery of the “Golden Optical Window” – a unique band of infrared wavelengths that can penetrate deeper into biological tissues than other wavelengths of light during imaging, thereby dramatically increasing the imaging depth possible in brain tissue by as much as 50%. In addition, Dr. Shi has developed an early-detection spectral technique that could provide doctors with a tool for the early-stage detection of Alzheimer’s disease.

"My research is aiming at developing new optical imaging and spectroscopic techniques for real-time probing biological systems at subcellular scale, for neuroscience, cancer research and metabolic diseases. My research goal is to continuously advance current imaging techniques, offering researchers and clinicians powerful tools for disease diagnosis and treatment."

Key Publications:

  1. Shi L, Zheng C, Shen Y, Chen Z, Silveira E, Zhang L, Chang L, De Sena Tomas C, Targoff K, Min W, “Optical Imaging of Metabolic Dynamics in Animals”. Nat. Commun. 9: 2995, 2018.

  2. Shi L, Shen Y, Min W, “Visualizing Protein Synthesis in Mice with in vivo Labeling of Deuterated Amino Acids using Vibrational Imaging”, (Invited Article). APL Photonics 3: 092401, 2018.

  3. Shi L, Galvez EJ, Alfano RR, “Photon Entanglement Through Brain Tissue”. Sci. Rep. 6: 37714, 2016.

  4. Shi L, Sordillo L, Alfano RR, Rodríguez-Contreras A, “Transmission in Near-Infrared Optical Windows for Deep Brain Imaging”. J. Biophotonics 9: 38–43, 2016.

    Other Honors:

    2015 Postdoctoral Travel Award, City University of New York
    2015 President Travel Award for Young Postdoc Researchers, City College of New York
    2016 SPIE Photonics West Conference Travel Award, San Francisco, CA
    2016 Engineering Outreach Fellowship, City College of New York
    2016 – 2018 NIH U54 grant for “Early Stage Diagnosis of Triple Negative Breast Cancer”

    In the Media:

    Columbia News, Mapping the Inner Workings of a Living Cell.

    The Inquirer – Daily News, Scientists peer inside cancer using water and light. - Researchers open 'Golden Window' in deep brain imaging.

    Novus Light - “Golden Window” in Deep Brain Imaging.

    BioOptics World - Fluorescence Spectroscopy: Spectroscopy indicates biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease.