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News Archive 2001 - 2010

Biomedical Professor Secures $1 Million Cancer Research Grant

July 15, 2003

Hanli Liu, an associate professor of Biomedical Engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington, has received the initial funding of a $1.036 million research grant from the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, to improve prognostic information on the effectiveness of radiation therapies on brain tumors. The four-year project will involve researchers at UTA and UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

The grant will fund the development of a portable, non-invasive imaging tool that will assist physicians in selecting the optimal method of tumor treatment and evaluating its effectiveness. The tool will use a combination of Near Infrared (NIR) tomography (similar to an X-ray image) and hemodynamic (blood flow) modeling to create images of brain tumors. Treatments of brain tumors using radiation are commonplace, but have significant limitations when the tumors are large or are near fragile tissue such as optic nerves. One new approach in treating such tumors is using multiple radiations with small doses from different angles. The funded studies will focus on investigations of the effects and efficacy of multi-small-dose radiation therapy.

Dr. Liu has developed significant advances in tumor imaging and will be the principal investigator on this project. Her co-investigators include Khosrow Behbehani, professor of Biomedical Engineering at UTA; Bo Ping Wang, professor of Mechanical Engineering at UTA; and Dr. Cole Giller, associate professor of neurological surgery and radiology at UT Southwestern. The team also includes Dr. Tom Psarros, a resident at UT Southwestern, and two research associates at UTA.

The research will be conducted in two phases: development and animal testing. Dr. Liu will direct the two-year development stage, which will take place at UTA. Here, researchers will design the imager, develop two-dimensional images of rat brain models undergoing treatment, and validate associative changes in specific chemicals and processes in the tumors. The testing stage using animals will take place at UT Southwestern, under the guidance of Dr. Giller. He will use the imaging tool in evaluating the efficacy of radiotherapy involving the Cyberknife, a robotically controlled linear accelerator that precisely directs radiation into the tumor.