Lev T. Perelman is Mary Tolan and Edward Grzelakowski Professor at Harvard and Director of the Center for Advanced Biomedical Imaging and Photonics at BIDMC. He earned his doctoral degree from Institute of Physics in Minsk and received his postdoctoral training at MIT. Prior to moving to Harvard in 2000 he was Principal Scientist and Group Head at MIT.
Perelman’s research interests are primarily focused on the application of optics to life sciences, biological physics, and nanoplasmonics. His group pioneered biomedical light scattering spectroscopy (LSS) for noninvasive detection of early precancerous changes in epithelial tissues and tissue characterization on subcellular scale (Phys. Rev. Lett. 1998, Nature 2000, Nature Medicine 2001, Nature Medicine 2010, Nature Biomed. Eng. 2017). This approach was extended to subcellular scales with development of confocal light absorption and scattering spectroscopic (CLASS) microscopy for label free subcellualr functional imaging (PNAS 2007, ACS Photonics 2021), sensing chromatin packing in live cells (Science Advances 2021), and demonstrating that subcellular exosomes promote tumorigenesis (Cancer Cell 2014).
Other Perelman’s contributions include demonstration, with Katrin Kneipp, the world’s first single molecule detection with surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) (Phys. Rev. Lett. 1997, a Citation Classics with 7,500 citations), explanation of the critical role of stress confinement in short pulse laser ablation, a basic mechanism of laser surgery (PNAS 1995), and solving a long-standing problem in photon transport in turbid media, finding an analytical solution for the diffusion approximation near the point of entry (Nature Commun. 2011). He also worked with John Marshall on the development of the first non-hydrostatic model of the ocean, MIT General Circulation Model.
Perelman was a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Joint Working Group charged with setting up funding priorities in oncologic imaging in the U.S. He was elected to serve as the General Chair of the 2012 Optical Society of America Biomedical Optics and 3-D Imaging Congress. He is also a recipient of the National Science Foundation Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation Award given to global leaders in interdisciplinary research.
Perelman has mentored over 40 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at MIT and Harvard, with 11 of them becoming professors at Harvard, Northwestern, Princeton, and other universities.