Edinburgh Cancer Research

Andy Downes (Affiliate)

Label-free Optical Spectroscopy and Imaging

Dr Andy Downes - Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering

Our research uses laser light to excite vibrations in molecules. These vibrations occur at different frequencies in different molecules. So by looking at the spectrum of the light, we can measure these molecular vibrations and hence the chemical composition of wherever we focus the laser. We apply this technology – Raman spectroscopy – to individual cancer cells, as well as tissue. This allows us to distinguish subtle chemical changes associated with cancer, so improve both the understanding and the diagnosis of the disease.

We also acquire images of this chemical composition, with Raman microscopy. This allows us to display subtle changes between cancerous and healthy regions, in a way which is not possible with normal light microscopy. Our techniques do not require any labels, so can be used on living tissue without requiring fluorescent dyes or stains, or nanoparticles.


Research Programme



Andy Downes Principal Investigator and Lecturer
Tony Corcoran SRF Manager
Dimitrios Tsikritsis PhD student
Dawn Gillies PhD student

Scientific Themes

Raman spectroscopy, CARS microscopy, label-free, multi-photon, diagnosis

Technology Expertise

Raman spectroscopy, optical microscopy, multi-photon microscopy, CARS microscopy, atomic force microscopy