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Michael Choma, MD, PhD

Associate Professor Adjunct

Research Summary

Many pediatric diseases are poorly understood, in part because they involve processes that occur at small, microscopic scales. In addition, the causes often involve small motions and fluid flows. For example, an early embryonic heart has a diameter of about 100 micrometers, which is about the diameter of a human hair. The cilia that move mucus out of our airways are even smaller- about 10 micrometers long. In order to better study pediatric disease at such small scales, we develop innovative optical imaging methods to visualize and quantify disease at these microscopic scales.

We have three areas of active research.

  1. First, we develop new laser sources for microscopy and biological imaging.
  2. Second, using sophisticated optical imaging methods, we study abnormal embryonic heart function in different animal models of human disease, including the tadpole Xenopus tropicalis. In particular, we study the role that specific human genes play in abnormal embryo heart development and physiology.
  3. Third, we are developing imaging methods to better diagnose abnormalities in respiratory cilia function. Since cilia expel mucus that contains allergens, viruses, and bacteria, they are essential to keeping lungs healthy.

The overall impact of our work is two-fold. First, we are developing core optical technologies that may find widespread use in microscopy. Second, our cilia and heart imaging research has the potential to personalize the diagnosis and treatment of a wide-variety of pediatric diseases.

Extensive Research Description

  • Optical imaging of microfluidic-scale biological fluid flow
  • Quantitative imaging of embryo heart physiology and pathophysiology
  • Diagnostic imaging of pathologic cilia-driven fluid flow
  • Developing novel light sources for biological imaging

Research Interests

Cilia; Heart Defects, Congenital; Lasers; Respiratory System; Developmental Biology; Tomography, Optical Coherence; Optics and Photonics

Public Health Interests

Cardiovascular Diseases; Respiratory Disease/Infections; Child/Adolescent Health

Research Images

Selected Publications