Jennifer K Barton, PhD

Director, BIO5 Institute
Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor, Optical Sciences
Professor, Agricultural-Biosystems Engineering
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Email Address: 
Phone Number: 
(520) 621-4116
Professional Bio: 

Jennifer Barton received her BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and University of California Irvine, respectively. She worked for McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) on the Space Station program before returning to The University of Texas at Austin to obtain the Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering in 1998. She is currently Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Optical Sciences, and Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Arizona. In 2012 she became Associate Vice President for Research, and from July 2013 - June 2014 she served as Interim Vice President for Research.

Dr. Barton develops miniature endoscopes that combine multiple optical imaging techniques, particularly optical coherence tomography and fluorescence spectroscopy. She evaluates the suitability of these endoscopic techniques for detecting early cancer development in patients and pre-clinical models. Additionally, her research into light-tissue interaction and dynamic optical properties of blood laid the groundwork for a novel therapeutic laser to treat disorders of the skin’s blood vessels. She has published over 90 peer-reviewed journal papers in these research areas.

Dr. Barton's research interests are in translational biomedical optics, and the prevention and early detection of cancer. She has expertise in light-tissue interaction, development of instrumentation, preclinical studies and clinical pilot trials. The Barton laboratory has competency in areas of engineering such as lens design, endoscope design, data acquisition and signal processing, instrumentation software, and image processing/analysis, as well as areas of cancer biology and physiology. The laboratory is heavily involved in preclinical and pilot clinical studies and Dr. Barton has experience gaining human and animal subject approvals, clinical engineering instrument approval, experimental design, statistical data analysis, and reporting.

Dr. Barton has particular interests in technology and application development of optical coherence tomography (OCT) and fluorescence spectroscopy (FS), and design/development of miniature endoscope-enabled imaging systems. She has developed instruments for small animal and clinical imaging, with an application emphasis in the early detection of cancer and imaging of the microvasculature. Major achievements include an ultrahigh resolution OCT endoscope (2-4 µm resolution, 2 mm diameter), multimodality optical endoscopes, serial imaging of carcinogenesis, and clinical/surgical pilot studies of laboratory-built imaging systems. Each of her funded projects has included co-investigators from other departments, universities, and/or industry.

Dr. Barton recently became Co-Leader of the Cancer Imaging Program at the University of Arizona Cancer Center. She previously was Assistant Director of the BIO5 Institute, a collaborative research institute dedicated to solving complex biology-based problems affecting humanity. She served as the inaugural Department Head of Biomedical Engineering and Chair of the BME Graduate Interdisciplinary Program. She is a fellow of SPIE- the International Optics Society, and a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Clinical Information

Clinical Focus: 

Research Information

Research Program: 
Cancer Imaging
Research Focus: 

Dr. Barton has performed extensive research on laser-blood vessel interaction, helping develop a paradigm shift in cutaneous blood vessel treatment by exploiting time-varying optical properties of blood. A dual-wavelength laser system based on this work is now being utilized to treat resistant port wine stains. Jennifer is also developing optical coherence tomography and laser induced fluorescence as tools for drug and therapy development. Her group has designed and fabricated miniature and ultra-high resolution endoscopes that can visualize early stages of colon, ovarian, and skin cancer development in animal models and human patients.

Selected Publications: 

Professional Information

Other Experience and Professional Memberships/Affiliations: 
American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering
American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery
Biomedical Engineering Society
Optical Society of America

Academic Information

Master's Degree: 
University of California, Irvine 1993
Undergraduate School: 
The University of Texas, Austin 1988