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University of Iowa News Release

Oct.18, 2005

UI To Use Advanced Imaging To Improve Cancer Clinical Trials

The Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa has received supplemental funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to establish an Image Response Assessment Team (IRAT) that will integrate medical imaging into clinical trials for new cancer treatments.

Imaging techniques such as computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are commonly used to locate and diagnose tumors, but the IRAT initiative intends to use these increasingly sophisticated technologies to go one step further and observe cancer's metabolic and molecular processes. This additional information, which is obtained non-invasively, can help determine how aggressive a cancer is and how well a cancer treatment is working. In particular, the IRAT will incorporate these quantitative, anatomical, functional and molecular imaging techniques into clinical trials, allowing researchers to monitor the response of tumors to new cancer therapies.

The Holden Cancer Center is one of only eight NCI-designated cancer centers nationwide to receive such funding, which amounts to $741,000 over three years. Michael Graham, M.D., Ph.D., UI professor of radiology, director of the nuclear medicine division and leader of the Holden Cancer Center Tumor Imaging Program, will lead the UI Image Response Assessment Team.

IRATs nationwide aim to provide enhanced quantitative analysis, interpretation and integration of imaging data in response-to-therapy trials, as well as regular dissemination and communication of these methods with IRATs at other institutions.

A goal of the UI IRAT is to integrate quantitative medical imaging into approximately five new clinical trials each year for the three years of the grant. Graham hopes to improve the quality of clinical studies by involving imaging scientists early in the clinical trial process to determine when and how imaging information would be most useful.

"At the University of Iowa we have all the necessary imaging tools in place, our imaging scientists are committed to the effort, and there is widespread recognition of the utility of oncologic functional imaging among the relevant clinical scientists," Graham said. "Our long-term goal is to incorporate imaging into clinical trials as a critical branch point to determine optimal therapy for the individual patient."

"In a nutshell, the IRAT will help clinical cancer researchers and radiologists work more effectively together on a range of clinical cancer research studies," added George Weiner, M.D., director of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI, the C.E. Block Chair of Cancer Research and professor of internal medicine.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5135 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, (319) 335-9917

PHOTOS/GRAPHICS: A photo of Dr. Graham is available from Jennifer Brown (