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Research by Andriy Fedorov '08 Wins Top Award at Graduate Research Symposium

The preoperative imaging shown here contains information essential to the surgeon (including the tumor, visible in green); but it cannot be used during the operation, unless it is updated to account for the tumor's shifting location.Neurosurgeons rely on MRI images to map the location of brain tumors and guide their work in separating tumors from healthy brain tissue. High-resolution scans taken under optimum conditions before surgery reveal cellular differences that are not visible to the eye. Yet the surgery itself causes the brain to change shape, shifting the tumor's location. Ideally the surgeon could view real-time scans throughout the surgery and follow the tumor's changing location precisely.

 Andriy Fedorov '08 is demonstrating the potential for just this kind of solution. A Ph.D. student of Prof. Nikos Chrisochoides' in Computer Science, Andriy has worked for two years putting together a sequence of processes involving an algorithm that registers the pre-surgical MRI image to images taken during the surgery.

Andriy's research project is titled, "Near-Real-Time Nonrigid Registration for Image Guided Neurosurgery Using Commodity and Grid Computing." At the College's sixth annual Graduate Research Symposium, held in March 2007, his project won the Award for Excellence in Scholarship in the Natural and Computational Sciences.

Tetrahedral mesh, shown as a wireframe, is the basis for the biomechanical model used to approximate overall brain deformation (shown by the colored arrows).Tetrahedral mesh, shown as a wireframe, is the basis for the biomechanical model used to approximate overall brain deformation (shown by the colored arrows).

In Andriy's research scenario, the surgery takes place within a "double-doughnut" MRI configuration that allows scanning while still providing the surgeon access to the brain cavity. "Speed is a key factor," Andriy notes. "We have to be able to take new images during surgery, register them to the pre-surgical image, and return updated information to the surgeon as quickly as possible."

Last year, Andriy Fedorov and his fellow student, Andriy Kot, worked together to compute the updated information at W&M in less than five minutes and send it to the surgeons at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston. For the first time the computation of such complexity was completed within the time constraints of the surgery. Since then, the implementation has been used routinely at BWH. Andriy emphasizes that this result was made possible by a dedicated team effort. In addition to his colleagues in the Parallel Experimental Systems Lab in the Computer Science Department, the team includes experts from around the globe.

Research and Travel Awards Established to Support Graduate Students

Research and travel awards from the Office of Graduate Studies and Research help to pay for expenses that A&S graduate students incur while pursuing their research, including supplies and travel to museums, archives, and professional conferences. Students often leverage these early grants to obtain full funding from outside grant agencies.

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