NIH awards New Innovator grant for lung function CT program

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has presented a New Innovator Award of $1.5 million to Thomas Guerrero, MD, PhD, of the department of radiation oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, for his development of a computer algorithm that uses CT to characterize lung function.

The program applies deformable image registration (DIR) to CT scans to create images of the distribution of lung function and loss of lung function to enable better lung cancer treatment and improve diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The New Innovator grant, which was awarded to 52 out of 2,220 applicants, is being given to Guerrero for his application of the imaging algorithm to two different clinical studies. The first compares the DIR program’s radiation targeting of lung tumors with the standard image-guided tumor targeting method employed by volume avoidance technique. The second study will apply the DIR program to CT scans to characterize COPD damage to the lungs caused by air trapping. The program creates a detailed picture of lung function based on CT of inhales and exhales.

Guerrero, who has been developing the program since 2003, explained, "The ultimate goal is to develop software that can be incorporated into existing medical computer workstations for CT analysis and for radiation treatment planning in every hospital, large and small, in the U.S."