Dr. Weersink and his team have two main research areas:
Image Guidance for Ablative Therapies
Photodynamic and photothermal therapies are increasingly translated into clinical use. We are developing new treatment planning, delivery and monitoring methods for both modalities with a strong focus on clinical translation into treating prostate, lung and head and neck. We are developing optically-based methods for response monitoring in these indications such as trans-rectal diffuse optical tomography (TR-DOT) for monitoring prostate treatments and photoacoustic imaging. These methods rely on changes in tissue properties as measurements of treatment response, such as optical scattering, absorption and fluorescence.
Registration of Optical and Radiological Imaging
Radiological imaging is the primary data set used in planning and guiding procedures in image-guided surgery, radiation therapy and interventional radiology, providing exact spatial information of disease location. Non-volumetric information, such as endoscopy, needle positioning and pathology also provide important clinical information that is typically disconnected from the spatial mapping provided by the radiological imaging. We are developing methods of spatially mapping and integrating this non-volumetric information with the standard radiological imaging as an aid in image-guided surgery and radiation treatment planning. For endoscopic imaging, we have developed methods of image-based registration between the optical imaging and CT imaging, comparing real and virtual endoscopic views. This quantitative endoscopy is being evaluated as a method to improve the contouring of mucosal disease in head and neck cancers being treated with radiation therapy. More recently, we have been applying these methods for applications in lung and esophagus brachytherapy, where definition of the disease and the applicator insertion is based on optical visualization. We are investigating new methods of 3D endoscopy using a combination of MEMs-based fiber scanning probes and optical coherence tomography.