UNC, GE Healthcare to Create Center for Breast Cancer Imaging Research

The University has entered into a multi-year agreement with GE Healthcare to establish a Center for Research Excellence in Breast Cancer Imaging within UNC’s Biomedical Research Imaging Center, creating a University-wide center for excellence to advance and commercialize research and technological developments to detect, diagnose and treat breast cancer.

With funding from GE Healthcare, the center is expected to perform important breast imaging research projects, including an evaluation of the role of contrast-enhanced mammography in breast cancer diagnosis, the development of image processing in improved digital mammography and mechanisms to reduce radiation dose to patients who undergo mammography.

An advisory board comprising GE and UNC representatives will consult with the center on its research, education and service agenda.

The director of the center will be Dr. Etta D. Pisano, Kenan Professor of radiology and biomedical engineering and former chief of breast imaging at UNC. Pisano was the lead investigator of the Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial, a study that assessed the diagnostic accuracy of film and digital mammography in screening women for breast cancer. In addition to writing more than 100 peer-reviewed and invited publications, Pisano has participated as a speaker in more than 300 scientific and educational programs and has served as principal investigator on more than 20 research studies in breast imaging.

“I am very excited about this opportunity to work with GE, a great medical imaging company, to create and test new tools for finding breast cancer earlier,” Pisano said.

Within this partnership, GE and UNC also will organize an annual lecture in breast cancer imaging featuring an internationally renowned expert in addition to imaging seminars conducted by industry leaders and researchers.

“GE is committed to supporting the efforts of this center to validate new technological advances in tackling one of the most prevalent forms of cancer worldwide,” said Mike Barber, chief technology officer for GE Healthcare.

The Biomedical Research Imaging Center was formed in 2005 to support image-based biomedical research across the 16-campus UNC System. Building on internationally recognized programs in medical imaging at UNC and N.C. State University, the goals of the BRIC are to provide an environment that promotes multi-disciplinary/multi-departmental research interactions that can more effectively address problems in biomedical imaging. The BRIC will be a statewide resource serving researchers across North Carolina in a central facility that will handle the acquisition, processing, analysis, storage, and retrieval of images.

Related coverage is available online:

  • Mammography Scientist Honored by Ladies’ Home Journal
    August 2006 news report
  • The Mammogram: Is Digital Better?
    Feature coverage from the March/April 2002 Carolina Alumni Review, available online to Carolina Alumni members.
  • Eye of the Needle : A new generation of surgeons will train with computer scientists and radiologists – and dazzling new technology – to navigate the least invasive paths into the body.
    Feature coverage from the January/February 1998 Carolina Alumni Review, available online to Carolina Alumni members.

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