Adam Wax, PhD

Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Faculty Network Member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
Bass Fellow
Address: 2571 CIEMAS
Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 660-5143

Research Interests

Dr. Wax's research interests include optical spectroscopy for early cancer detection, novel microscopy and interferometry techniques.

The study of intact, living cells with optical spectroscopy offers the opportunity to observe cellular structure, organization and dynamics in a way that is not possible with traditional methods. We have developed a set of novel spectroscopic techniques for measuring spatial, temporal and refractive structure on sub-hertz and sub-wavelength scales based on using low-coherence interferometry (LCI) to detect scattered light. We have applied these techniques in different types of cell biology experiments. In one experiment, LCI measurements of the angular pattern of backscattered light are used to determine non-invasively the structure of sub-cellular organelles in cell monolayers, and the components of epithelial tissue from freshly excised rat esophagus. This work has potential as a diagnostic method for early cancer detection. In another experiment, LCI phase measurements are used to examine volume changes of epithelial cells in a monolayer in response to environmental osmolarity changes. Although cell volume changes have been measured previously, this work demonstrates for the first time the volume of just a few cells (2 or 3) tracked continuously and in situ.


Chu, Kengyeh K., et al. “Esophageal OCT Imaging Using a Paddle Probe Externally Attached to Endoscope.Digestive Diseases and Sciences, Jan. 2022. Epmc, doi:10.1007/s10620-021-07372-w.

Jelly, Evan T., et al. “Deep imaging with 1.3 µm dual-axis optical coherence tomography and an enhanced depth of focus.Biomedical Optics Express, vol. 12, no. 12, Dec. 2021, pp. 7689–702. Epmc, doi:10.1364/boe.438621.

Chen, C. X., et al. “Automated Classification of Breast Cancer Cells Using High-Throughput Holographic Cytometry.” Frontiers in Physics, vol. 9, Nov. 2021. Scopus, doi:10.3389/fphy.2021.759142.

Yang, Ziyun, et al. “Connectivity-based deep learning approach for segmentation of the epithelium in in vivo human esophageal OCT images.Biomedical Optics Express, vol. 12, no. 10, Oct. 2021, pp. 6326–40. Epmc, doi:10.1364/boe.434775.

Park, Han-Sang, et al. “Single Cell Analysis of Stored Red Blood Cells Using Ultra-High Throughput Holographic Cytometry.Cells, vol. 10, no. 9, Sept. 2021. Pubmed, doi:10.3390/cells10092455.

Jelly, Evan T., et al. “Optical coherence tomography of small intestine allograft biopsies using a handheld surgical probe.J Biomed Opt, vol. 26, no. 9, Sept. 2021. Pubmed, doi:10.1117/1.JBO.26.9.096008.

Zhang, Haoran, et al. “Deep learning classification of cervical dysplasia using depth-resolved angular light scattering profiles.Biomedical Optics Express, vol. 12, no. 8, Aug. 2021, pp. 4997–5007. Epmc, doi:10.1364/boe.430467.

Parker, S. M., et al. “Combined quantitative phase microscopy and förster resonance energy transfer for analyzing cell ion dynamics.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, 2021.