Jing Tang receives NSF CAREER award

Assistant Professor Jing Tang, of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineeringhas been awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award (Number 1454552).

The goal of a CAREER award is to support junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars. The five-year, $500,000 award begins March 15. The abstract of the award is given below:

The emerging hybrid Positron Emission Tomography integrated with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (PET/MRI) system represents the cutting edge technology in the field of biomedical imaging. While first clinical studies are currently underway to assess the prospect of this major breakthrough in multimodal imaging, methodological challenges and potentials still need to be addressed or exploited before this technology finds its way to routine applications. The proposed research investigates "super-correction" techniques in PET imaging to revolutionize one of the most sensitive in vivo molecular imaging modalities when integrated with MRI information. The project will be an important step toward reaching the full technological capabilities of PET and MRI, extending its capabilities to diagnostic and prognostic benefits for oncologic, neurologic, and cardiologic diseases thus improving patient care and research. Besides scientific research activities, this project also draws up plans to reach the PI's educational goals through activities to integrate research, education, and outreach. The new biomedical engineering curricula are expected to meet the growing demands of students from southeast Michigan and provide high-quality training to the next generation engineers and scientists in biomedical imaging. The research opportunities provided through this project and the pre-college biomedical engineering programs will attract female and historically under-represented students to pursue careers in the engineering discipline. The online medical imaging resource will promote public understanding of the biomedical imaging field to plant seeds for its steady growth. 

Despite the considerable excitement about the potential of PET and MRI, this new technology is evolving significantly slowly than expected toward its clinical acceptance. Difficulties due to lack of transmission source for PET attenuation correction and underexplored benefits of MR information demands the need to address set of challenges due to integration of these two systems. The proposed career development plan is a systematic effort to advance the hybrid PET/MRI system to enable for more defining applications. The specific research objectives to be accomplished during this award include: a) to determine MR-assisted joint PET activity and attenuation estimation techniques, b) to evaluate MR-assisted motion-sensitive PET image reconstruction techniques, c) to investigate MR-assisted PET image reconstruction techniques for partial volume correction, and d) to evaluate and validate techniques quantitatively using realistically simulated PET and MRI data and physical phantom experiments for brain, cardiac, and whole-body imaging. The proposed research on MR-assisted joint estimation of activity and attenuation from the time-of-flight PET data is expected to eliminate the regionally varying bias resulted from the MR segmentation-based attenuation map. The proposed study on MR-assisted motion correction and partial volume correction will fully take advantage of the high-resolution, high soft-tissue contrast MR images to suppress the organ motion blurring and conquer the inherent limitations of PET imaging resolution. When successfully completed, the project has the potential to revolutionize the hybrid PET and MRI system leading to new scientific discoveries and clinical applications.