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University of Iowa News Release

July 21, 2006

UI Researchers Receive Three-Year, $940,000 NIH Grant For Medical Imaging

UI Researchers in engineering and medicine have received a three-year, $940,000 grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance medical imaging. The new grant is in addition to a one-year, $142,750 NIH grant received in 2005, bringing the total award for the four-year project to about $1.1 million.

Gary E. Christensen, Ph.D., (photo, left) associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the University of Iowa College of Engineering, will serve as principal investigator along with co-investigators Jon Kuhl, Ph.D., professor and departmental executive officer in the UI Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Thomas J. Grabowski Jr., M.D., professor of neurology and director, Lab of Computational Neuroanatomy in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

Called NIREP (Non-Rigid Image Registration Evaluation Project), the study is aimed at developing better methods to evaluate medical imaging systems.

Christensen noted that while non-rigid image registration (NIR) is necessary for making anatomical comparisons, there is no single standard to define how individual points should precisely match up from one image to another, making the numerous and diverse NIR systems difficult to evaluate. NIREP will attempt to overcome the problem by defining a set of standard tests that can be used to evaluate the performance of all NIR methods.

"This project will help researchers understand the benefits and limitations of current NIR methods and point the way to the next generation of improvements," he said. "We will develop software tools, provide shared image validation databases to test NRI algorithms and generally expand upon earlier validation projects."

NIREP will establish, maintain and endorse a standardized set of relevant benchmarks and metrics for performance evaluation of NIR algorithms. The standards will be incorporated into a computer program to automatically evaluate the registration accuracy of NIR algorithms, said Christensen, who also serves as The Robert and Virginia Wheeler Faculty Fellow of Engineering.

Other project co-investigators are: Hanna Damasio, M.D., University of Southern California, professor of psychology and director, Dornseif Cognitive Neuroimaging Center; and Michael W. Vannier, M.D., professor, Department of Radiology, University of Chicago.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu