The wider commercial significance of BiOS should not be underestimated. After all, biomedical optics is big business - and getting bigger. According to a study published last year by the MBA Consulting Center and the Center for Biophotonics at University of California, Davis, the annual worldwide market for biomedical optics technologies is worth well over $60 billion (based on relevant company revenues). Of that, medical diagnostics (including in vitro assays/instrumentation and advanced imaging) accounts for around 70% of revenues, with medical therapeutics pegged at around 15%.

Equally important, however, is the role that BiOS plays in bringing the optics R&D community together with physicians and clinical scientists working in hospitals. It's this interaction that remains the key to the successful transfer of next-generation medical innovations out of the lab and into clinical practice. Clinicians, after all, have first-hand experience of what the problems are at the diagnostic/therapeutic sharp-end, which means their input on technology development is much more likely to yield high-value optical solutions that address real clinical needs.

What's hot

No doubt many of last year's big conference themes will be equally prominent at BiOS 2008. For starters, there's likely to be plenty of discussion about photonic techniques for cancer screening and diagnosis - and specifically, the use of optical modalities as an adjunct to established radiological procedures like CT and MRI to evaluate parameters such as morphology, vasculature, blood flow and oxygenation in suspect regions. Another happening research area is the use of optical interrogation to evaluate the efficacy, or otherwise, of experimental drug regimes, as well as to gain a better understanding of the disease states that exist post-therapy, something that could go a long way to preventing recurrence.

As always, the BiOS meeting will seek not only to review progress in biomedical optics over the past 12 months, but to redefine development priorities for 2008 and beyond. Many of the headline themes are singled out for special attention at the BiOS Hot Topics sessions. Among the Hot Topics at this year's meeting are progress in therapeutic lasers (the subject of a Hot Topic paper by Rox Anderson of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Boston, MA); probing disease using tissue optical spectroscopy; multidimensional fluorescence imaging; and the pros and cons of nanotechnology in disease management (the subject of Sunday evening's Hot Topic workshop).

Whether you're heading to San Jose or not, you'll be able to follow all the news as it happens on The Main Event, medicalphysicsweb's conference blog. If you get a moment, be sure to check out the blog for on-the-spot news, views and analysis direct from the BiOS conference sessions and trade exhibition.