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UT Arlington to dedicate imaging labs at UT Southwestern Medical Center

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

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Media Contact: Herb Booth, Office:817-272-7075, Cell:214-546-1082, hbooth@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - The need for human patients in a handful of University of Texas at Arlington research projects that would yield a more accurate picture of the human body has driven five engineering professors here to a historic collaboration with UT Southwestern Medical Center doctors on the medical center’s sprawling Dallas campus.

A joint project with UT Southwestern Medical Center will dedicate four laboratories in the Bill and Rita Clements Advanced Medical Imaging Building to UT Arlington College of Engineering professors who are working on medical imaging projects.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the UT Arlington Optical Medical Imaging Center at UT Southwestern is scheduled for Aug. 29.

Five UT Arlington engineering professors – Drs. Kambiz Alavi, George Alexandrakis, Digant Davé, Hanli Liu and Karel Zuzak – will team with UT Southwestern medical doctors to further test medical imaging projects that are at various stages of development.

The joint effort marks the first time UT Southwestern Medical Center has dedicated space exclusively to an engineering school, said Dr. Khosrow Behbehani, professor and chairman of the UT Arlington Bioengineering Department.

“This is a historic next step in what’s already a strong collaboration between UT Arlington and UT Southwestern Medical Center,” UT Arlington President James D. Spaniolo said. “This facility will bring together some of the best and brightest minds from two leading institutions who are working together to advance medical imaging and bioengineering, and to make North Texas an undisputed leader in this emerging field. We’re stronger when we work together, and this facility allows that.”

Dr. Kern Wildenthal, president of UT Southwestern Medical Center, said, “UT Southwestern is delighted and gratified that our new Clements Advanced Medical Imaging Building can help advance the work of our sister institutions, UT Arlington and UT Dallas, at the same time that our own programs are being built. The collaborations exemplified by the work that will occur in UT Arlington’s Optical Medical Imaging Center are proof that the DFW metropolitan area has exceptional strength in both biomedical and physical science.”

Dr. Behbehani said UT Arlington researchers had to be “put in close proximity to the medical doctors who treat patients. They can work with each other on a day-to-day basis.”

Dr. Zuzak said the facility translates research from the laboratory to the clinic.

“Most bioengineering research has this valley of death between the research bench and the clinic or surgery,” Zuzak said. “If we can’t get that research into the clinic, then you can have the best mathematics and engineering around but it doesn’t mean anything for the patient.”

The collaboration prompted Congress to get involved with the project. U.S. Rep. Joe Barton secured $3.1 million in federal funding to seal the project.

“The new optical medical imaging system creates a physical environment where the engineering expertise from UT Arlington and the medical expertise from UT Southwestern are combined to create and transfer medical technology from the research labs to real-life patients,” Congressman Barton said. “The proposed project will have a positive impact on the health care of Texans in the Dallas and Fort Worth region as well as the economy in North Texas.”

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