The data an MRI machine pulls carries potential far beyond the images it provides for physicians.

In fact, Case Western Reserve University Professor Anant Madabhushi is confident that, with the development and application of image analytics, information can be extracted from the MRI, which could then be used to enhance diagnoses, identify the level of risk and predict appropriate treatment more effectively. These analytic tools could help avoid unnecessary, painful and expensive surgery and aggressive treatments for patients who may not need or benefit from them.

Madabhushi, a professor of biomedical engineering, is joining two other Cleveland scientists to explain how imaging analytics could yield such impressive results Tuesday, March 28, at a high-level conference in Washington, D.C.

While in the nation’s capital, the group also will deliver an important message to elected officials: Federal research funding is critical to sustaining such life-saving advances—which, beyond their fundamental human importance, also can significantly lower health-care spending.

Anant Madabhushi

Anant Madabhushi

The visit comes in light of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, calling for a reduction in federal funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by about 18 percent—or nearly $5.8 billion of its $30 billion budget. NIH supports most of the nation’s research on diseases and treatments.

“Our group and other groups are already showing that image analytics can help improve diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of breast, lung, prostate, brain and rectal cancers,” said Madabhushi, the F. Alex Nason Professor II of Biomedical Engineering. “The research was extremely relevant before the President announced his skinny budget for NIH funding, but, boy, is it relevant now.”

Madabhushi, who also serves as director of the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics at Case Western Reserve, will be joined by Robert Gilkeson, vice chairman of research in the Department of Radiology at University Hospitals, and Oliver Steinbach, senior director for Clinical Science and Research Programs at Philips Healthcare, to present their research and participate in roundtable discussions during the 2017 Medical Imaging Technology Showcase on March 28, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

This year’s event, presented annually by the Academy for Radiology & Biomedical Imaging Research’s Coalition for Imaging and Bioengineering Research, will focus on cutting-edge technologies in 3-D printing, virtual reality, mammography innovations and more.

The goal: to inform policymakers, advocates, academics and industry about the positive impact that imaging technology has on patient care, the value of NIH-funded academic research and the importance of effective collaborations among academia, industry and patient advocacy groups.

For Madabhushi and his colleagues, the event will provide a forum to showcase their research projects titled “New Imaging Analytics to Advance Cancer Care” to politicians on Capitol Hill and to make the case for more—not less—research funding for biomedical imaging.

“Combining image analytic tools with medical imaging scans can improve disease diagnosis non-invasively and reduce unnecessary surgical interventions and biopsies,” Madabhushi said. “Not only is this hugely important for patients in that we are not subjecting them to interventions that aren’t needed, we could also significantly cut down health-care costs by reducing unnecessary procedures. So there’s a huge economic side to this.”

While there, the group of Cleveland research scientists also has separate meetings scheduled with the offices of U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, and U.S. Reps. David Joyce and Marcia Fudge.