What is Biophotonics?
Biophotonics is the application of optics and photonics to biology; in basic research, diagnostics and biomedical intervention. It is a transdisciplinary field which relates to physics (optics, photonics), chemistry (spectroscopy, chromophores, nanomaterials), biology, biochemistry, medicine (DNA, proteins, cells, tissues, organisms), engineering (instrumentation) and ethics (in medicine, biology, environment and research).
Why study Biophotonics?
Biophotonics is at the heart of major societal, economic and technological challenges. It has revolutionized the life sciences and medicine: therapeutic applications using light are more and more widespread; new optical imaging techniques make the human body transparent and pave the way for the exploration of the infinitely small. Optics are needed for the development of new remote sensing methods to track environmental changes, applications for the food industry, tools for studying the microbiome, and more.
Jobs available to Biophotonics graduates
Due to the significant impact of biophotonics in fields as diverse as medicine, ecology, the environment, the agro-food industry and basic research, the opportunities, both academic and industrial, are numerous and favorable to rapid career development. There are many job opportunities in the industry, in Research & Development, quality control, project management, production, etc. The main sectors concerned are health (therapy, medical imaging, biomaterials, biomedical research, etc.), food processing, ecology, the environment (for example the detection of contaminants) as well as the military field. But expertise in biophotonics remains limited. High-tech industries in Quebec, Canada and the rest of the world are constantly looking for qualified personnel in biophotonics, capable of interpreting biological issues and proposing / designing solutions based on optics / photonics. The placement rate for graduates in biophotonics from Université Laval is exceptionally high.
Some examples of potential jobs for a holder of graduate degrees in biophotonics:
- research professional in research centers, research and development institutes, universities and hospitals
- industry research professional (e.g. company developing new technologies, new diagnostic tests, new probes)
- consultant, expert or specialist for private or government firms
- specialist, advisor or representative for companies providing, among other things, water quality, pollution and food quality measurement services as well as specialized equipment.
- Manager of a service platform using biophotonics (e.g. microscopy) in a research or university center
- expert in the food industry
- teacher (e.g. at CÉGEP)
- entrepreneur working in biophotonics
- professor (e.g. at the University, with a doctoral degree)
The employers are companies in optics / photonics, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, microscopy, sale of products for biomedical research, consulting firms, schools and CEGEPs, universities, research centers and institutes, research laboratories, etc.
Biophotonics at Université Laval
The master’s and doctoral programs in biophotonics were founded in 2008 to meet a significant need for expertise at the interface between the life sciences and the physical sciences focused on optics / photonics. Expertise in Biophotonics is particularly important at Laval University and its affiliated research centers (COPL, CERVO, CHUQ, INO), including the Neurophotonics Centre. These programs, unique in Canada, are supported by several national and international research and training initiatives and organizations, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Quebec Research Funds – Health and Nature and Technologies, Apogée Canada Excellence Research Fund, Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Quebec Ministry of Economy and Innovation, Brain Canada, Research Chairs and Excellence Research Chairs of Canada, and many others. Université Laval has also deployed the Sentinel North initiative, funded at $ 98 million, to develop innovative optics-photonics tools and improve our understanding of the northern environment and its impact on humans and their health.
Studying at Université Laval
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Québec, an international biophotonics center
Quebec is a city where the concentration of research and development in biophotonics is exceptional. Several research centers, such as the Optical Photonics and Laser Center and the Neurophotonics Center have state-of-the-art biophotonics research facilities and programs. In addition, Quebec City has a very large network of industries with activities and products for – or using – biophotonics. Université Laval has also deployed the Sentinel North initiative, funded at $ 98 million, to develop innovative optics-photonics tools and improve our understanding of the northern environment and its impact on humans and their health.
Quebec at the center of international collaborations in biophotonics. Several alliances have been made with other centers, research institutes and companies in Quebec and elsewhere in the world to push the boundaries of the field. This makes it possible for students to conduct research projects in collaboration with other laboratories and universities around the world, as well as companies.
Already more than forty professors at Laval University can lead research projects in biophotonics. The vast majority of these professors are associated with the Faculty of Science and Engineering and the Faculty of Medicine. Research laboratories can be found all over the campus and in research centers affiliated with the University.