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Quing Zhu Awarded $1.36 Million NIH Grant

Dr. Quing Zhu, associate professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, has garnered a four-year, $1.36 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct larger-scale clinical trials at the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC) and Hartford Hospital using a novel device that combines near infrared (NIR) and ultrasound imaging. Dr. Zhu’s research team will include UCHC breast surgeons Peter Deckers and Scott Kurtzman, oncologist Susan Tannenbaum, radiologist Mark Kane, pathologist Poornima Hegde and cancer biologist Kevin Claffey; and Hartford Hospital radiologists Edward Cronin and Michele O’Loughlin, oncologist Patricia Defusco and pathologist Andres Ricci. Professor of Statistics Joseph Glaz is also participating.

Dr. Zhu’s research centers on a unique imaging device she developed that – when used complementarily with ultrasound – yields more accurate diagnoses and treatment assessment. Her device combines ultrasound and NIR light to overcome the limitations that plague the individual technologies.

This NIH award will allow her to refine the technique and validate initial, promising results in distinguishing benign and early-stage malignant breast tumors from a larger patient pool. Approximately 300 breast cancer patients will be recruited to this study from the UCHC and Hartford Hospital. The NIH award will also allow Dr. Zhu to validate the technique as a valuable imaging tool in assessing chemotherapy response and evaluating treatment efficacy. Approximately 40 patients who will undergo chemotherapy treatments will be recruited to this pilot study from both institutions.

Last year, Dr. Zhu was honored with a Connecticut Women of Innovation award in recognition of her outstanding contributions toward science. In addition, she was selected a Donaghue Investigator by the Donaghue Foundation, West Hartford, CT, and in spring 2007 she was elected to membership in the Connecticut Academy of Science & Technology.