Today, doctors and researchers can view the body's hard and soft tissues through X-rays, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. With MRI and positron emission tomography (PET) scans, viewing cellular activity is also possible.
But these viewing techniques can be enhanced. Wyatt is specifically looking at improving imaging for virtual colonoscopies; developing algorithms to replace extensive manual work in brain imaging; and developing image-guided polypectomy technology.
As an example of the impact that smarter imaging techniques could have, consider the pharmaceutical industry and its drug trials. "Drug studies involve many hundreds of patients; that's a lot of data. If you're evaluating a new drug for cancer and you scan 1,000 patients three times, you have 3,000 sets of data. Can you hire a radiologist to look at all that?
"You can acquire the data, but pulling out the information you want - such as how the lesion is changing is a difficult, time-consuming process that right now is done manually in many cases. Trained technicians look at the images and outline the lesions by hand," said Wyatt, a faculty member in the Virginia Tech Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.
In brain imaging, Wyatt is concentrating on improving the medical understanding of addiction through modeling techniques. Wyatt is working with the Wake Forest University School of Medicine's Center for the Neurobehavorial Study of Alcohol (CNSA) to develop algorithms that increase the medical understanding of neurological structures beyond what is currently provided by state-of-the-art MRIs. Wyatt hopes to
Contact: Lynn Nystrom