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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 21, 2007

UI engineer Raghavan nets $2.74 million NIH grant to study brain aneurysms

Madhavan L. Raghavan, associate professor of biomedical engineering in the University of Iowa College of Engineering, has received a five-year, $2.74 million grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to study the biomechanics of brain aneurysms.

Raghavan says that the motivation for the project is to help physicians diagnose the severity of brain aneurysms and ascertain their rupture risk better. Traditionally, the size of the aneurysm is considered the key risk factor for rupture. But, it is possible that the shape of these lesions is also an important risk factor -- perhaps a more important factor, says Raghavan, who will serve as project principal investigator.

"In this project, the investigators will assess whether aneurysm shape is a predictive factor in growth risk," he says. "The challenge is that aneurysm shape is inherently qualitative, unlike size. To better capture the role of aneurysm shape, the investigators will draw upon principles in image processing, computational geometry, fluid mechanics and solid mechanics."

Earlier, preliminary studies on this topic performed in Raghavan's lab by Dr. Baoshun Ma, a former UI doctoral student and currently research scientist at the University of California at San Diego, won the Basic Science Award from the American Association of Neurosurgeons.

"Developing better means of ascertaining the rupture risk of brain aneurysms will help physicians make more informed decisions on treatment strategies for patients with this disease. As a result, more patients with critical aneurysms will receive much-needed treatments, while many with relatively safe lesions may avoid aggressive interventions," Raghavan says.

His UI collaborators on the project are: K.B. Chandran, Lowell G. Battershell Chair in Biomedical Engineering and faculty research engineer at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering; Jia Lu, associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering and researcher in the Center for Computer Aided Design; James Torner, professor and head of epidemiology in the College of Public Health; UI graduate student Manasi Ramachandran and others to be named.

Raghavan will also be joined by project subcontractors: Dr. Robert E. Harbaugh, professor and chair of neurosurgery at Penn State University's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine, as well a project co-principal investigator; Dr. Robert H. Rosenwasser, professor and chair of neurosurgery, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pa.; and Dr. Christopher S. Ogilvy, professor of neurosurgery, Harvard Medical School.

Aneurysm research is a focus of Raghavan's Vascular Mechanics Lab. Previously in 2007, Raghavan received a two-year NIH grant to study and improve the design aspects of endovascular graft, an implant used to repair aortic aneurysms that occur in the large artery of the abdomen.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, University News Services, 319-384-0009,