Improving Cancer Diagnosis
Few tools exist to help physicians differentiate between tumors that demand aggressive treatments and those that aren't an immediate threat.
Carnegie Mellon University will lead a two-year research project sponsored by Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) program to develop digital image analysis tools that will guide physicians in identifying and treating aggressive prostate cancer tumors and pediatric liver tumors.
CURE provided nearly $1 million in funding to CMU for this project, which has a budget of $1.43 million including $446,000 in matching funds from Omnyx.
Robert F. Murphy, director of CMU's Ray and Stephanie Lane Center for Computational Biology, will direct the two-year project, which will bring together image analysis researchers at CMU with investigators at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Omnyx Corp.
"Physicians treating prostate cancer and pediatric liver cancer tell us that they now have few, if any, tools to help them differentiate between tumors that demand aggressive treatment and those that don't pose an immediate threat to patient survival," Murphy said.
"We expect to show that automated image analysis technology, developed by my group at the Lane Center and Gustavo Rohde's group in biomedical engineering [at CMU], can be used to detect certain subcellular changes that could help physicians identify those dangerous tumors and determine the best ways to treat them."
Murphy says CMU has been a wonderful environment as a locus for the efforts in computational biology and as a source of great ideas on cutting-edge approaches.
"From a research perspective, we have some very talented faculty here — computational biologists, biologists, engineers, and computer scientists," he said.
"I think the Lane Center also has an important role to play from an educational perspective. Our faculty help greatly in training grad students and Lane fellows to learn the approaches that we're taking here so that they can take them out to the rest of the world."
The team also includes Drs. Anil Parwani and John Ozolek from UPMC's Department of Pathology at UPMC. If the technology proves useful, it will be marketed through Omnyx, a joint venture of UPMC and GE Healthcare that has created an integrated digital pathology system.
Bottom photo: From left, Michael Wolf, executive deputy secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Health; Travis Zangrilli, public health program manager for the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) program; Robert F. Murphy, director of CMU's Lane Center for Computational Biology; and Rajiv Enand, senior vice president for business development, Omnyx, LLC.