Novel imaging tech brings together Madison, Milwaukee vision researchers

Melissa Skala

Novel imaging tech brings together Madison, Milwaukee vision researchers

A Madison-Milwaukee scientific partnership is powering an effort to better understand the complicated mechanics of human vision.

Melissa Skala, a Morgridge Institute for Research investigator and UW-Madison professor of biomedical engineering, develops applications in photonics-based imaging that offer many research benefits, most notably that they do not damage living tissue. That has made her technology an ideal candidate for sensitive imaging related to treating a variety of cancers, immunotherapy, stem cells, eye disease and predicting pre-term birth, to name a few.

It wasn’t long after joining Morgridge in 2016 that Skala sought out Joseph Carroll, a scientist at Medical College of Wisconsin who is a pioneer in eye imaging research. Skala, always aware of the potential of her technologies for studying the eye, arranged a daylong field trip to Carroll’s lab, bringing half a dozen students along, to investigate possible research partnerships.

It turned out to be a very fruitful endeavor and is helping inform one of Carroll’s core research questions: the role that melanin plays in healthy vision and disease. Melanin, of course, is best known as the compound that determines skin pigmentation, but it’s also essential to vision.