June 18, 1994
Media Contact:Joann Rodgers
Phone: (410) 955-8659
'The School of Medicine of 'The Johns Hopkins University and the Institute of Systems Science (ISS) at the National University of Singapore have entered into a collaborative agreement to develop advanced, computerized imaging technology that will dramatically reduce the time for diagnosing many medical conditions.
In the case of cardiac imaging alone, the new imaging technique may replace the current series of tests that requires three days to complete and costs $5,000, with a single, half-hour procedure costing about $1,000. If universally instituted, the new technology would reduce the national bill for comprehensive cardiac testing from about $8 billion per year to $1.6 billion, according to Carey Kriz, co-director of the new center, called the Center for Information-enhanced Medicine.
The center will explore applications of sophisticated computer graphics and image processing techniques used in conjunction with technologies such as sonography, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging to enhance the ability of physicians to diagnose medical conditions.
"Health-care issues are global problems," Kriz says. "We have the opportunity with this center to bring together international research teams focused on specific computer applications in medicine. The new center will create prototypes of products that will address global health-care markets."
"The unique model of government-research institute partnership that Singapore has set up should significantly accelerate our ability to turn the center's research efforts into marketable products," adds Raguh Raghavan, Ph.D., the new center's other co-director from ISS.
The new technologies, already under development, will give physicians powerful new tools for studying normal and diseased organs, and for planning operations by performing simulated procedures on three-dimensional images of the organs.
The Johns Hopkins University and the Institute for Systems Science will license these technologies to existing companies, or help to establish new companies that will market them, according to Kriz. Hopkins will provide clinical guidance and evaluation during the research and development of these technologies, while ISS uses its engineering and computer science expertise to develop appropriate mathematical calculations and software to solve medical imaging problems identified by Hopkins clinicians.
The center's first four joint projects include three-dimensional imaging technologies for studying and diagnosing disorders of the brain and heart, improved technologies for letting surgeons view the inside of a patient during surgery without having to make large incisions (minimally invasive surgery), and a technique that will permit plastic surgeons to predict what the surgically reconstructed skulls of young children who undergo plastic surgery will look like after several years of growth.
For example, using a technology called tagged magnetic resonance imaging, Hopkins researchers have already created animated images of a patient's beating heart that permit them to analyze the health of specific areas of heart muscle as they stretch and contract during each heartbeat. Another imaging project under way combines 3-D brain mapping and imaging technology, which, when fully developed, would permit a surgeon to "remove" a piece of a patient's brain from a computer image of that organ, and examine it to determine how best to treat a disease in that area.