[Name]: Chloe Ekelem
[Mentors]: Natasha Mesinkovska
Project Title: The Application of OCT Lasers in Hair Follicle Imaging
I am a post-doctoral fellow in the clinical research center of the Department of Dermatology. There, I am privileged to work with my mentor Dr. Natasha Mesinkovska and the rest of the departmental faculty as well as our wonderful patients.
The advancement of technology-based diagnostic and therapeutic modalities is rapidly changing the dermatology practice by allowing clinicians to expand noninvasive indications. My dermatologic focus is hair loss disorders, which afflict people of all subtypes, are difficult to treat, and are disruptive to the psychological wellbeing of patients. Scalp biopsies remain cumbersome, invasive procedures that permit only single time-point analysis. Real-time assessment of living tissue has invaluable potential for bolstering histologic and dermatoscopic characterization of follicular disorders of the skin, particularly alopecia.
In lieu of such observation I am working in a collaborative effort with the UCI Beackman Laser Institute to develop various non-invasive imaging systems for clinical application in dermatology. I work primarily with optical coherence tomography (OCT), a modality based on imaging principles analogous to those of ultrasound, except using near infrared light as opposed to sound waves. Although I am often toggling between several projects at any given time, my research revolves around defining the usability potential for OCT in dermatology, particularly in diagnosis and management of hair loss and other skin conditions in a multiethnic population.
Thus far we have shown that OCT technology is largely nondiscriminatory however may produce minimal variations in image quality when used in different Fitzpatrick skin types. As applications for OCT continually expand, my research will serve as an atlas for future skin and follicular application of OCT in disease diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy assessment. I look forward to continuing to grow academically and in innovative collaboration as this important endeavor progresses.