UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering


IHE Colloquium Series: Near Infrared Spectroscopy

30 October 2018, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm

Clare Elwell

As part of our colloquium series, Prof Clare Elwell will present ‘Near Infrared Spectroscopy: Changing How, Where and When We Can Image the Brain’.

Event Information

Open to



UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering


Roberts Building
Torrington Place
United Kingdom


Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) has found widespread application as a non invasive optical imaging technique. Recent  innovations have enabled NIRS images of brain oxygen metabolism to be acquired in infants and adults. NIRS studies of the developing brain are paving the way for early markers of autism. And following its successful implementation in resource poor settings, NIRS is now an important brain imaging tool in global health studies. Using these and other examples this talk will discuss the transformative effect NIRS is having on our ambitions for how, when and where we can image the brain.  

About the Speaker

Prof Clare Elwell

Professor of Medical Physics at UCL

Clare Elwell is a Professor of Medical Physics in the Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at University College London (UCL). She obtained her BSc in Physics with Medical Physics 8 from the University of Exeter, where she also completed her MPhil. She gained a PhD from UCL describing the application of near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to measurements of brain oxygenation and blood flow in adults. She is now Director of the Near Infrared Spectroscopy Research Group in the Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory at UCL and develops novel NIRS systems to monitor and image the human body. Her research projects include studies of autism, acute brain injury in adults, children and infants, sports performance, migraine and malaria. 

She currently leads the BRIGHT (Brain Imaging for Global Health) project using NIRS to investigate the impact of malnutrition on brain development in rural Gambia - delivering the first brain images of infants in Africa.

She is President of the Society for Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy, and of the London International Youth Science Forum. She was awarded the 2016 Women in Science and Engineering Research Award. In 2018 she won the Outstanding Contribution Award at the Provost's UCL Engineering Engagement Awards, and took up a British Science Association Media Fellowship. She is Founder and Trustee of the charity Young Scientists for Africa (YoSA).