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NSF Gives Grant for Breast Cancer Research

   The National Science Foundation has awarded Dr. Magda El-Shenawee, professor of electrical engineering and the principle investigator (PI) of the project, a 3-year grant of $388,913 to investigate breast cancer tumor margins using terahertz (THz) imaging and spectroscopy technology. The research project will be in collaboration with Dr. John Gauch, professor of computer science and computer engineering and co-investigator of the project. The goal of this research is to advance THz imaging techniques for real-time assessment of excised breast cancer tumor margins in breast-conserving lumpectomy surgery.  Women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer can choose between lumpectomy and mastectomy.   Many patients choose to have a breast-conserving lumpectomy. The excised tumor is then sectioned, stained and examined by pathologists in the histopathology lab to determine if there are cancerous tissue near the boundary of the tissue sample (positive margins).  This examination can take several days due to the large number of very thin sections of 3-4 microns used in pathology.  The investigators will use their expertise in electromagnetic modeling, THz measurements, inverse scattering algorithms, medical imaging, image segmentation, and visualization to achieve real time assessment of breast cancer tumor margin in real time. 

   The Department of Electrical Engineering is housing the state-of-the-art terahertz imaging and spectroscopy equipment. This system has been purchased through a National Science Foundation of major research instrumentation (MRI) awarded to Dr. El-Shenawee as the principal investigator in 2012.

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