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UT Arlington Dediates Imaging Labs at UT Southwestern Medical Center

September 29, 2008

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. Four laboratories in the Bill and Rita Clements Advanced Medical Imaging Building have been dedicated to UT Arlington College of Engineering professors who are working on medical imaging projects.

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. 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.”

Photos and a video of the dedication ceremonies and details about lab activities are available at Medical Imaging Lab.