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University of Iowa News Release

July 28, 2006

UI Engineers, Physicians Receive Five-Year, $1.6 Million NIH Lung Study Grant

Medical imaging and its use in the study of lung mechanics will be the focus of a project by University of Iowa engineering and medical researchers who have received a five-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The multi-disciplinary team includes principal investigator Joseph Reinhardt, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering in the UI College of Engineering, and three co-investigators: Gary Christensen, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering; Eric Hoffman, Ph.D., professor of radiology in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine; and Geoffrey McLennan, M.D., professor of internal medicine in the UI Carver College of Medicine.

Reinhardt says that the project will use CT (computed tomography) imaging to study lung mechanics in normal subjects as well as in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a degenerative lung disease afflicting millions of individuals.

"It is well known that lung diseases such as COPD and lung cancer change the material properties of lung tissue and the mechanical behavior of the respiratory system," he says. "We will use 3-D CT imaging to study how the lung changes size and shape during respiration, and to estimate strain in the lung tissue. We will establish the mechanical properties of the normal lung during respiration and then look at how lung tissue properties change with COPD. Our hope is that some disease processes might be detected earlier by observing changes in lung mechanics, and that our methods can be used to evaluate disease progression and response to therapy."

Reinhardt, a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, has principal research interests in medical image processing. He is involved with a variety of imaging-related projects, including NIH-funded research to develop a digital human lung atlas. Reinhardt conducts biomedical imaging teaching and research in the UI department of biomedical engineering.

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