Adam P. Wax
Adam P. Wax

Adam P. Wax

Professor of Biomedical Engineering


Dr. Wax's research interests include optical spectroscopy for early cancer detection, novel microscopy and
interferometry techniques.

The study of intact, living cells with optical spectroscopy offers the opportunity to observe cellular structure, organization and dynamics in a way that is not possible with traditional methods. We have developed a set of novel spectroscopic techniques for measuring spatial, temporal and refractive structure on sub-hertz and sub-wavelength scales based on using low-coherence interferometry (LCI) to detect scattered light. We have applied these techniques in different types of cell biology experiments. In one experiment, LCI measurements of the angular pattern of backscattered light are used to determine non-invasively the structure of sub-cellular organelles in cell monolayers, and the components of epithelial tissue from freshly excised rat esophagus. This work has potential as a diagnostic method for early cancer detection. In another experiment, LCI phase measurements are used to examine volume changes of epithelial cells in a monolayer in response to environmental osmolarity changes. Although cell volume changes have been measured previously, this work demonstrates for the first time the volume of just a few cells (2 or 3) tracked continuously and in situ.


Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Pratt School of Engineering

2013 Pratt School of Engineering

Professor of Physics in the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

2023 Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Member of the Duke Cancer Institute in the School of Medicine

2017 School of Medicine

Faculty Network Member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences in the University Institutes and Centers

2012 University Institutes and Centers

Bass Fellow in the Pratt School of Engineering

2016 Pratt School of Engineering


B.S. 1993

1993 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

M.A. 1996

1996 Duke University

Ph.D. 1999

1999 Duke University

Publications, Grants & Awards

Offices & Contact

2571 Ciemas
Durham, NC
Box 90281
Durham, NC