Tiffany Ko, PhD

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Tiffany Ko, PhD, is a postdoctoral research fellow in the June and Steve Wolfson Laboratory for Clinical and Biomedical Optics, Division of Neurology, and in the Center for Resuscitation Sciences at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Appointments and Referrals: 1-800-TRY-CHOP (1-800-879-2467)


The focus of my research is the development of non-invasive diffuse optical tools to identify critical periods of neurological vulnerability and to facilitate individualized care pathways to mitigate subsequent neurological injury in critically-ill children. Currently, I am a postdoctoral research fellow (NIH/NHLBI 5T32 HL007915) in the June and Steve Wolfson Laboratory for Clinical and Biomedical Optics, directed by Dr. Daniel Licht in the Division of Neurology, and in the Center for Resuscitation Sciences, directed by Dr. Todd Kilbaugh in the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

I began working with biochemical optical sensing during my undergraduate training in Electrical Engineering at Princeton University. Under the direction of Dr. Claire Gmachl, I developed instrumentation to characterize the performance of novel quantum cascade laser designs and prototyped a CO2 sensor system to leverage their power-efficiency for low-cost environmental sensing. I continued my instrumentation efforts as an Assistant Technical Staff member in the Biological and Chemical Defense Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, where I developed and deployed network and database architecture and real-time data acquisition and analysis protocols for various sensor systems. I went on to complete an MS in Bioengineering as part of the joint UC Berkeley-UCSF Masters in Translational Medicine program, where I first began interfacing with clinical care providers to develop a low-cost continuous renal replacement therapy system.

This past December, I received my PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania. As a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) – National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) Interfaces in Imaging Scholar, prior to starting my dissertation research, I completed the first 1.5 years of pre-clinical medical curriculum alongside medical student trainees at the Perelman School of Medicine. Subsequently, my dissertation work was supported by the NIH NICHD F31 Individual Predoctoral Fellowship and co-advised by physicist Dr. Arjun Yodh and pediatric neurologist Dr. Daniel Licht. Their decade-long collaboration has brought non-invasive optical monitoring to the bedside and helped characterize the cerebral physiology of critically-ill children including those with severe congenital heart disease, following stroke, and during extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy.

As an extension of their work, my dissertation focused on validating diffuse optical cerebral diagnostics for real-time guidance during deep hypothermic cardiopulmonary bypass and during cardiopulmonary resuscitation using high-fidelity pediatric swine models developed by cardiothoracic surgery fellow Dr. Constantine Mavroudis and attending intensivist and anesthesiologist Dr. Todd Kilbaugh. Our results demonstrated the limitations of temperature-guided management and how direct, non-invasive measurement of cerebral metabolism has the potential to improve intraoperative guidance of deep hypothermia and cardiopulmonary bypass to ensure adequate metabolic suppression and cerebral perfusion. In the context of resuscitation, we uncovered non-invasive cerebral hemodynamics which significantly predict return of spontaneous circulation within the first few minutes of CPR. We are continuing to build upon this work and look forward to translating these novel diagnostics to improve neurological outcomes following critical care.

Education and Training

Graduate Degree

MS - Bioengineering (Translational Medicine), UC Berkeley-UCSF, Berkeley, CA 

PhD - Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Titles and Academic Titles

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Departments and Services