Ohio Third Frontier awards CWRU and partners $2.5 million for imaging research

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission has awarded $2.5 million in research grants to advance the Philips Healthcare Global Advanced Imaging Innovation Center, a collaboration among Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Philips Healthcare. The research projects are part of $30 million in funding awarded throughout the State of Ohio this month by the Ohio Third Frontier Commission.

These latest grants fund two significant imaging research projects that are part of the Philips Healthcare Global Advanced Imaging Innovation Center, formed in June 2010 to bring together radiologic experts to coordinate clinical research, education, development and commercialization of advanced imaging technologies. The Imaging Center was funded through an initial $5 million from Ohio Third Frontier Commission and a $33.4 million matching commitment from Philips.

“This additional funding from the Ohio Third Frontier Commission further establishes Northeast Ohio as a worldwide hub for imaging technology,” said Pablo Ros, MD, chairman of radiology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and UH Case Medical Center. “The collaboration between Case Western Reserve, UH and Philips has created a pipeline to move innovative technologies more quickly into patient care and these unique research projects are the next step in this important synergy between our organizations.”

The Ohio Third Frontier grants are:

  • Positron Mammographic Imaging: $999,649 for a project to develop a first-of-its-kind system that will provide greatly enhanced resolution of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) technology that is used to detect breast cancer through CT or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) imaging. Using the new PET/MRI at the UH Seidman Cancer Center, one of four in the world, researchers will explore if this hybrid imaging technology enhances the ability to more accurately detect breast cancer. In a new class of diagnostic imaging modalities, the PET/MRI brings together the complementary capabilities of MRI and PET to better visualize both functional and anatomical information. The use of MRI alone to detect breast cancer often leads to false positive results because it picks up benign abnormalities, but combining the images with PET may enhance the ability to detect malignant areas. This greater resolution has the potential to provide physicians with the ability to improve surgical planning and better monitoring of the disease.

    Raymond Muzic, PhD, associate professor of radiology, oncology and biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University, is the overall project leader. The research team includes Donna Plecha, MD, director of breast imaging and assistant professor; James O’Donnell, MD, director of nuclear medicine and professor; Peter Faulhaber, MD, radiologist and associate professor, UH Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University Department of Radiology; and Piotr Maniawski of Philips.
  • Cardiac Perfusion with Computed Tomography (CT): $1.58 million for a project to create a novel cardiac imaging product that will enable emergency room physicians to make more definitive diagnoses and immediate treatment decisions for heart attack patients. The research team will explore the use of cardiac perfusion technology to provide a detailed assessment of areas of the heart which are not getting enough blood or to find out how much heart muscle has been damaged, building upon state-of-the-art CT technology created by Philips Healthcare Cleveland. These systems will capture snapshot 3D views of the beating heart with incredible detail to determine local blood flow. By combining the traditional capabilities to assess coronary anatomy with the new ability to assess physiological blood flow will provide a “one stop shop” for cardiac imaging which is not available with any existing single imaging modality. This will enable informed diagnostic decisions in a cost effective, fast way. A successful product should significantly help grow the market for Philips CT scanners made in Ohio and shipped all over the world.The project is led by David Wilson, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering and radiology at Case Western Reserve University. The research team includes Hiram Grando Bezerra, MD, professor; Robert (Chip) Gilkeson, MD, director of cardiothoracic imaging and professor, UH Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University Department of Radiology; and Scott Pohlman of Philips.

The Third Frontier grants require matching funds. The partners are investing a total of $1 million in each project.

As part of the Philips Healthcare Global Advanced Imaging Innovation Center, the latest Philips imaging equipment is developed in Cleveland and validated for clinical efficacy and product release. The Department of Radiology at UH Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve School of Engineering, have some of the nation’s leaders in medical imaging who partner with Philips. The company’s global Computed Tomography and Nuclear Medicine headquarters is also in Cleveland.

“We are very excited about this important collaboration with University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University,” said Jay Mazelsky, senior vice president and general manager for Computed Tomography and Nuclear Medicine at Philips Healthcare. “Our company aspires to assist clinicians by providing breakthrough imaging technologies that today are not yet possible. This Advanced Imaging Innovation Center will help us realize these objectives and in the process, help improve the healthcare of patients in Ohio and throughout the world.”