• February 23, 2012
  • Penn Radiology Researchers Receive $2.5 Million NIH Grant for Breast Cancer Virtual Clinical Trials


Philadelphia — Two researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have been awarded a four-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute to conduct breast cancer virtual clinical trials research. Andrew Maidment, PhD, associate professor of Radiology and Physics Section Chief, and Predrag Bakic, PhD, assistant professor of Radiology, together with researchers from Barco, Inc., a technology company that designs and develops visualization products, will investigate virtual clinical trials, which are detailed computer simulations of human clinical trials that can help speed the integration of new imaging technologies into clinical practice. These trials act as precursors to human clinical trials, providing valuable insight into potential clinical performance and cost-effectiveness of new imaging technologies even before they come to the hospital setting.

The Penn Medicine and Barco researchers plan to develop an integrated system to perform virtual clinical trials of breast cancer screening technology that builds upon computational breast anatomy models, medical device simulations and complex display and observer models. "As the pace of medical device development increases and as medical devices become more complex, one is faced with the quandary of increasing the pace of expensive clinical trials or finding effective and safe alternatives to some clinical trials," Maidment says.

The Penn researchers envision virtual clinical trials as having a major role in preclinical testing of new medical imaging devices to estimate clinical performance differences in order to target human clinical trials to the most promising devices and most appropriate clinical roles. "A virtual clinical trial system allows testing feasibility of a wide array of virtual presentations of patients on multiple innovations in medical devices and software," said Houston Baker, PhD, Program Director of the Imaging Technology Development Branch of the National Cancer Institute. "This method will bring more advanced designs to the real world, which can be tested with more effective clinical trials that were designed and pre-tested in virtual reality."

The new research is funded as an NIH Academic-Industrial Partnership (1RO1CA154444), designed to provide support for a strategic academic-industry alliance that combines technology innovation know-how with an understanding of the complex process required to develop an invention as a practical, marketable product.


Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 17 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $392 million awarded in the 2013 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania -- recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2013, Penn Medicine provided $814 million to benefit our community.



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