Gemma’s research interests are in non-invasive optical neuromonitoring techniques. She develops diffuse optical devices to monitor brain metabolism in areas which traditional brain monitoring can’t, such as the intensive care unit or in a real-world environment. Her primary focus had been developing broadband near-infrared spectroscopy (bNIRS) techniques to monitor a metabolic enzyme, cytochrome-c-oxidase [Bale et al., Journal of Biomedical Optics, 2016]. Cytochrome-c-oxidase is the terminal electron acceptor of the electron transport chain, which is the final stage of oxidative metabolism within the mitochondria. Its near-infrared optical properties are dependent on its oxidation state, hence it is possible to monitor electron transport within the mitochondria using bNIRS. Cellular metabolism is an important measurement for a range of medical conditions.
Gemma has pioneered this technique in the neonatal intensive care unit and has shown the clinical promise of the measurements. She has also developed miniature, portable devices which are being used around the world in a range of different scenarios, from paediatric surgery to psychiatric wards. The aim of Gemma’s research is to translate biomedical optics measurements into clinical practice.