News Release 

Cancer researcher receives OU's first National Institutes of Health MERIT (R37) Award

Grant to facilitate development of precision radiation delivery tool

University of Oklahoma

NORMAN, OKLA. - The quest to conquer cancer is motivating a team of researchers at the University of Oklahoma to develop a 3D scanner capable of guiding the radiation treatment, dispensing just the right amount of radiation to just the precise location, making real-time adjustments as treatment is delivered.

The initial five year $2.1million grant is the first NIH Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT R37) Award, issued to a researcher at the University of Oklahoma's Norman campus. An extension of funding for two additional two years will be issued based on NCI review of the accomplishments during the initial funding segment. Liangzhong Xiang, assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering is leading the team that includes OU Medicine physicists Yong Chen and Salahuddin Ahmad, together with radiation oncologist Dr. Terence Herman and commercial product expert from PhotoSound Technologies, Inc., Dr. Vassili Ivanov.

The scanner will rely on X-ray-induced Acoustic Computed Tomography (XACT), a process that measures acoustic signals generated by X-rays as they are absorbed by human tissue. By detecting the acoustic waves, real-time visualization of the X-ray beam inside the patient quantifies the precise radiation dose deliveried to the tumor.

The impact of the proposed XACT imaging is to not only provide a novel imaging tool to accurately verify in-patient radiation doses, but also to provide real-time feedback for adaptive therapy during treatment. The technological advancements in XACT imaging will decrease radiation treatment toxicity and improve clinical outcomes for cancer patients.

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Research reported in this release was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R37CA240806. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

The R37 is a Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) and provides longer term grant support to Early Stage Investigators. The objective of the NCI's ESI MERIT Award is to allow eligible investigators the opportunity to obtain up to seven years of support in two segments, with the first being an initial five-year award and the second being based on an opportunity for an extension of up to two additional years, based on an expedited NCI review of the accomplishments during the initial funding segment. Unlike most NIH grant awards, the MERIT award can not be applied for by the investigator.

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