Nature Medicine, October 2009

Biomedicine would be far easier if organisms were transparent. In 2007, a biologist created a transparent zebrafish and now more than 100 labs are using these fish to study cancer pathology and development in real time. Gracie Vargas, a biomedical engineer at UTMB, published a landmark study in 1999 that increased light transmittance through hamster skin by 50 percent using glycerol. In a paper published last year, she found it was possible to treat lesions such as birthmarks using greatly reduced laser power if tissue surrounding the birthmark was treated with glycerol first.