Enrico Gratton received his doctorate in physics in 1969 from the University of Rome. In 1986, while a Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dr. Gratton was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish the first national facility dedicated to fluorescence spectroscopy: the Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics (LFD). The LFD is a state-of-the-art fluorescence laboratory for use by local, national, and international scientists. It is committed to service in a user-oriented facility, as well as to research and development of fluorescence instrumentation and theory. The LFD has reached international recognition for the development of instrumentation for time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy using frequency domain methods. In 2006 the entire LFD laboratory moved to its current location at the new Natural Sciences II building at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Gratton remains Principal Investigator of the LFD and holds joint appointments as Professor in the UCI departments of Biomedical Engineering and Physics, and also in the College of Medicine. Dr. Gratton collaborates with other UCI researchers in the areas of engineering, medicine, physical science, information and computer science, biological science, and UCI's Beckman Laser Institute (BLI).
Dr. Gratton and his engineering group are involved in a collaboration with Bruce Tromberg and his colleagues at BLI which employs noninvasive, safe near-infrared optical technology in the study of breast cancer and the effectiveness of chemotherapy in younger women. The scanner they have developed is currently in Phase 2 clinical trials and works by measuring molecular and functional changes in the breast that are indicators of cancer. Additionally, Dr. Gratton's lab has developed a novel procedure for the analysis of the spectroscopic signature in breast cancer. This study has lead to the discovery of specific spectroscopic markers for breast tumors. These markers appear to be different for benign and malignant tumors, opening new perspective for effective optical biopsy.
In the areas of biology and biophysics, Dr. Gratton utilizes his knowledge of the latest techniques in fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy to image live cells. As head of the Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics, a National Center for Research Resources supported by the National Institutes of Health, he and the scientists in his lab use fluorescence to study cellular processes including protein aggregation, membrane interactions, and migration of cells, to track moving particles, and to analyze collagen formation and deformation. The research leads to a better understanding of cell function, with potential application to diagnosing and identifying treatment for many human diseases, including Huntington's disease, kidney disorders, and cancers. Their findings also lead to the development of new fluorescence instrumentation and to the continued advancement of his center's data analysis software, Globals for Spectroscopy and Globals for Imaging. Proceeds from the software are used to fund research-related conferences and workshops, reflecting the longstanding commitment of Dr. Gratton and his lab to disseminating the latest advances in biomedical research to the greater scientific community.