World-Class Imaging Scientist, Cancer Scholar Joins University

Dr. Baowei Fei, an imaging scientist and cancer scholar whose work has transformed medical imaging and intervention for cancer care, recently joined the UT Dallas Department of Bioengineering. Dr. Fei was inspired by a speech by University President Richard C. Benson that he paraphrases: “‘We are still giving shape to this superb University, defining purpose and creating tradition that will last for 100 years and more. Put simply: you are founders,’” Dr. Fei’s group developed a technology called the molecular imaging directed, 3D ultrasound-guided biopsy system, which improves upon 2D systems by allowing for earlier detection of potentially cancerous cells in the prostate. Dr. Fei led the first clinical trial of positron emission tomography (PET) combined with ultrasound fusion targeted biopsy of the prostate. His research group also is investigating a technology called hyperspectral imaging for its potential use in biological and medical applications, such as real-time detection of cancer cells during surgery for complete removal of the tumor. The technology provides information about healthy and diseased tissues based on how they interact with various wavelengths of light.

Dr. Fei received a new NIH R01 grant on image-guided intravascular robotic system for mitral valve repair and implants.

Mitral regurgitation (MR) is one of the most common valve lesions, which affects 9 million Americans, and is known to increase morbidity and mortality. MR occurs due to leakage of blood through the mitral valve and induces volume overload on the left ventricle, elevates diastolic wall stress and causes rapid left ventricular dilatation, ultimately leading to congestive heart failure within 5 years and death. Timely and effective repair of MR is of utmost importance to halt the progression of heart failure, but current options are limited. Open- heart surgery is the current standard of care and has a relatively high risk of post-operative mortality. Transcatheter mitral valve repair, is a new class of technologies in which MR repair is performed on a beating heart using a catheter that is guided to the mitral valve to deploy reparative devices. However, the route to the mitral valve is a challenging path for existing catheters to follow. The complexity associated with their implantation in a beating heart, often leads to failed procedures and conversion to open heart surgery. We propose to develop a novel intravascular steerable robot that is guided to the mitral valve by multimodality imaging and deploys a novel, low profile device that can effectively repair MR of all forms. This highly innovative and interdisciplinary project combines expertise in surgical robotics, imaging and mitral repair devices. We envision that the intravascular steerable robot and implant, guided by multimodality imaging will significantly simplify Transcatheter mitral valve repair, increasing the procedural accuracy and control, and reducing failure rates.

Poster Awards at the International Conference of SPIE Medical Imaging

James Dormer, a Research Engineer from Dr. Baowei Fei’s Lab, won two Poster Award – Honorable at the International Conference of SPIE Medical Imaging. The first award is from the SPIE Medical Imaging: Biomedical Applications in Molecular, Structural, and Functional Imaging Conference. His paper is entitled “Heart chamber segmentation from CT using convolutional neural networks.” The second award is from the SPIE Medical Imaging: Ultrasonic Imaging and Tomography Conference. The title of his paper is “Ultrasound segmentation of rat hearts using a convolution neural network.”

Robert F. Wagner All Conferences Best Student Paper Award

Martin Halicek, a PhD student from Dr. Baowei Fei’s Lab, received the Robert F. Wagner All Conference Best Student Paper Award – Runner-Up at the International Conferences of SPIE Medical Imaging in Houston, Texas in February 12, 2018. The title of his paper is “Tumor margin classification of head and neck cancer using hyperspectral imaging and convolutional neural networks.” The Robert F. Wagner All Conference Best Student Paper Award (established 2014) is an acknowledgement of his many important contributions to the Medical Imaging meeting and his many important advances in the field of medical imaging and is co-sponsored The Medical Imaging Perception Society and SPIE. A first-place winner and runner-up were recognized with a cash prize ($1,000 and $500 respectively) and a certificate during the Plenary Session at the conference.

Martin Halicek, an MD/PhD student in Dr. Fei’s Lab received the Robert Jones Award

The Jones Award creates opportunities for advancement in patient care and the discovery of cures. Through a unique collaboration between Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology, the Jones Biomedical Engineering Fellows conduct groundbreaking research and lead the fight against debilitating diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and syringomyelia, the rare neurological condition Jones suffered from at the end of his life.  The Jones Award is to recognize a BME student in the Laney Graduate School at Emory University for exceptional research accomplishments as identified by the faculty.