Liberty Foreman

PhD Candidate, ISMB, University College London


I develop diagnostic algorithms for Barrett’s oesophagus, and my interests lie at the interface of biophysics, medicine and statistics. I enjoy all aspects of this multidisciplinary approach, from developing, communicating, educating and sharing new methods learnt.


I work in the centre of a collaboration between biophysicists, medics and statisticians in order to develop a diagnostic algorithm using Mid Infrared spectroscopy for pre-cancerous staging of oesphageal adenocarcinoma.

This highly interdisciplinary project involves direct contact with patients and medics. Currently I collect fresh biopsies from UCLH, record their spectra using Attenuated Total Reflectance - Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy, a non damaging technique allowing each biopsy to be staged in the classical histological manner. This technique provides information because molecular vibrational modes with changing dipoles absorb a specific frequency of IR. When plotting absorbance against wavelength, each pre-cancerous stage will exhibit different biochemical changes, producing a unique spectrum for that stage of the disease.

In order to build the diagnostic model from the spectral biopsies I have integrated two biophysical techniques, ATR-FTIR spectroscopy and FTIR microspectroscopy to get the maximum chemical information from a combination of fresh and sectioned/stained biopsies. Statistical techniques such as hierarchical clustering, principle component analysis, partial least squares discrimination are then applied to build the diagnostic model based on the pre-cancerous stages of oesophageal adenocarcinoma.

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