CONTACT: JENNIFER CRONIN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-9917; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: Nov. 24, 1999
UI researchers get $7.1 million for analyzing lung
IOWA CITY, Iowa A University of Iowa team of
medical and engineering researchers has won a five-year, $7.1 million bioengineering
research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct research
related to lung disease imaging and model-based analysis.
The award is one of the first grants that the NIH
has given as part of its new Biomedical Engineering Partnership program. The
funding will allow the UI researchers to purchase a state-of-the-art, multi-slice,
high-speed x-ray computerized tomography (CT) scanner to use in studying the
"The focus of the project is to develop highly sensitive,
dynamic, three-dimensional imaging methods for measuring the anatomy and physiology
of the lung without the need for invasive procedures," explained principal
investigator Eric Hoffman, Ph.D., UI professor of radiology and biomedical
Co-directors of the new scanning facility will be
Geoffrey McLennan, M.D., UI associate professor of internal medicine; and
Erik Ritman, M.D., Ph.D., who works in the Department of Physiology in the
Mayo Medical School, Rochester, Minn.
Although dramatic new methods are being developed
to potentially treat both early- and late-stage lung disease, there are no
methods to adequately test the success of these interventions. The UI investigators
want to develop scanning protocols and computer-based analysis tools needed
to evaluate the CT images.
The new equipment, as well as the image processing
and data analysis that the UI research team will provide, will offer clearer
images of the human lung than those previously available, explained co-investigator
Joseph Reinhardt, Ph.D., UI assistant professor of biomedical engineering.
"The new CT scanner can very quickly gather cross
sectional images of the lungs, avoiding much of the blurring caused by movement
of the heart and lungs," Reinhardt said. "To make better pictures, we need
faster and faster equipment."
Hoffman explained that the work performed under this
grant will allow the researchers to build a computer model (or atlas) of the
normal lung, based on the high speed, high resolution CT scanning, which will
include both anatomy and function. When a patient is scanned, the computer
will compare the individual's lung against this model to help detect disease
and to follow treatment.
Collaborator Milan Sonka, Ph.D., UI associate professor
of electrical and computer engineering added, "Our approach to analyzing the
large volumes of pulmonary CT data is based on incorporating anatomical as
well physiological knowledge into highly automated algorithms for pulmonary
airway and vascular tree determination and description. This information cannot
be obtained in any other way than by designing new and highly sophisticated
techniques for volumetric image analysis."
Other key UI collaborators on this project include
Jeffrey Kern, M.D., professor of internal medicine; Kemp Kerstine, M.D., Ph.D.,
associate professor (clinical) of surgery; Timothy Timmerman, M.D., assistant
professor (clinical) of pathology; Ge Wang, Ph.D., associate professor of
radiology; and Michael Vannier, M.D., professor and head of radiology.
The project, which in addition to bringing together
investigators from the UI College of Medicine, the UI College of Engineering
and the Mayo Medical School, will also involve collaboration with investigators
at Marquette, Johns Hopkins and Purdue universities. Investigators from these
other centers will travel to the UI to use the unique scanning facility provided
through the grant.
"It is expected that this five-year collaboration
will not only lead to new methods of scanning the lung but will also help
define hardware modifications to be implemented by the scanner manufacturer
Picker International," Hoffman said. "These modifications could then allow
for further advances in state-of-the-art lung imaging to study normal and
The UI has a reputation for its expertise in computer-based
lung function measures. This latest project compliments another investigation
for which Hoffman recently received a $1.1 million NIH grant. In that project,
titled "Inflammatory parenchymal lung disease," Hoffman and McLennan, who
works in the College of Medicine's pulmonary section, are proposing new CT
methods to measure blood flow in the smallest vessels of the lung. The belief
is that these measures will provide for the earliest signs of the onset of
lung pathology leading to emphysema and other inflammatory-based lung diseases.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership
between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the
patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.