Creating Biomedical Technologies to Improve Health


Alexander Gorbach, Ph.D.

Alexander Gorbach
Unit Chief, Infrared Imaging and Thermometry

BG 13 RM 3N11 9000 Rockville Pike Bethesda, MD 20892



Dr. Alexander Gorbach is Chief of the Infrared Imaging and Thermometry Unit within the Biomedical Engineering & Physical Science Shared Resource Program (BEPS) at NIH. He has expertise in biomagnetism, inverse problems in electrophysiology and magneto-encephalography, remote sensing, and in vivo functional imaging by optical methods of brain tissues. Most recently, he and his research group have focused on new concepts for real-time intraoperative functional imaging, including assessment of microvascular plasticity, the relationship between vascular stress and tonic responses in vascular segments, optical image-guided resuscitation of organs, and optical imaging to guide targeted drug delivery. In addition, Dr. Gorbach’s interests involve studies of thermogenesis and thermoregulation ranging in scale from single cells to intact humans.

Dr. Gorbach’s primary research tools are infrared imaging, near-infrared hyperspectral and multispectral functional imaging, laser-speckle imaging, infrared microscopy, and microwave thermometric mapping. All of these tools are passive and do not require any artificial contrast substances, and thus, are much more "friendly" for use in clinical research. In multiple NIH clinical protocols where infrared imaging is already in use, Dr. Gorbach described this technology as an "infrared photography." Additionally, Dr. Gorbach adapts and optimizes software from fields such as atmospheric and planetary science for use in biomedical and clinical image analysis.

With over 18 years of experience in interdisciplinary biomedical research at the NIH, which has focused primarily in the clinical setting, his current collaborations involve cooperative research with scientists and clinicians across the NIH campus and around the world, including work with the Naval Medical Research Center, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and various universities in the U.S. and Europe. Examples include real-time infrared and laser-speckle imaging to assess ex vivo reperfusion of organs intended for transplantation, as well as their intraoperative viability; multispectral optical imaging for functional assessment of cutaneous and subcutaneous tissues; assessment by infrared imaging of brown adipose tissue activation; development of infrared, non-invasive capabilities for detection of mitochondrial dynamics; and infrared imaging microscopy for studies of cellular metabolism.

Recent study published in The Lancet 
Topical sodium nitrite for chronic leg ulcers in patients with sickle cell anaemia: a phase 1 dose-finding safety and tolerability trial

Research Interests

Future project areas:

  • Adaptation of a mid-infrared microscope toward detectability of thermogenesis in single cells for studies of cellular metabolism
  • Development of novel imaging approaches to monitor the viability of on-bench cold- and warm-perfused organs (e.g., kidney and heart)
  • Quantitative assessment of intraoperative tissue color dynamics
  • Functional visualization of individual sweat glands in humans
  • Design of intravital microscopy for clinnical applications, including quantification of blood cell dynamics; improved image and spectral acquisition; specialized image processing techniques; and adaptive optics.

Selected Publications