Thursday, May 26, 2005
OU physics professor receives $2.1 million NIH grant
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) gives doctors the ability to view soft tissues, something X-rays can‘t see, and provides a deeper view of injuries and degenerative conditions. Yang Xia, professor of physics, recently was awarded a $2.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help improve the quality and ability of clinical MRIs to provide detail that could offer early diagnosis for debilitating diseases.
For nearly 11 years, Xia has conducted research on the microscopic MRI study of articular cartilage, and in recent years, the NIH has recognized the uniqueness of his research, awarding him back-to-back grants to explore the topic further.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 33 percent of the U.S. population suffers from osteoarthritis and other related joint diseases. The enhanced MRI being explored by Xia may offer a way to provide an early diagnosis of the disease.
”When you are young and healthy, the degradation and regeneration of the tissue are balanced and you don’t feel anything,” Xia said. “There is currently no molecular marker to tell you if the tissue is starting to get bad, which is when the regeneration fails to repair the damage. With this research, we want to study a set of markers that could become useful in terms of disease diagnosis and management.”
The enhanced MRI is unique and would allow scientists to study tissues in certain areas without invasive or possibly destructive procedures. The microscopic MRI can provide two- and three-dimensional images of various MRI parameters that can provide new information into the understanding and prevention of arthritic diseases.
The NIH grant is the second for Xia, who also received one in 2000 to study the same topic.
The grant also includes an overhead of $581,363 that goes to Oakland University for general operational costs.
For more information on Xia's work with the microscopic MRI, visit Xia's Web site.