William and Mary professor receives Guggenheim Award

College of William and Mary professor Nikos Chrisochoides has been awarded the 2007 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship on Medicine and Health.

Chrisochoides’ award was one of just two awards given this year in the area of medicine and health and William and Mary was the only U.S. University to receive the award in this field. Chrisochoides is also the only recipient from a Virginia college or university. Guggenheim Fellows are appointed on the basis of distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment. The 2007 Fellowship winners include another 188 artists, scholars, and scientists selected from almost 2,800 applicants from the U.S. and Canada.

Chrisochoides, Alumni Memorial Distinguished Associate Professor of Computer Science, is working on geometric and numerical algorithms and software for Image Guided Neurosurgery which is a common therapeutic intervention in the treatment of brain tumors. Survival rate and quality of life for a patient greatly depend on the accuracy and precision of tumor resection, which can be significantly improved by utilizing pre-operative brain scans as an aid in decision making during the procedure. However, during the course of intervention the areas of interest may dislocate due to brain shift/deformation, and thus invalidate existing pre-operative brain images. Chrisochoides’ group in the Parallel Experimental Systems Lab (PESLab) at William and Mary use intra-operative MRI and many clusters of computers to track brain deformation.

“William and Mary is proud of the interdisciplinary research that our faculty do,” commented Carl Strikwerda, Dean of Arts and Sciences at the College. “Professor Chrisochoides is one of our distinguished scientists doing cutting edge research bringing together information science and medicine.”

In November of 2005 Chrisochoides’ group with their colleagues at Harvard Medical School were the first team of doctors and scientists to complete in real-time the alignment of pre- and intra-operative brain images using landmark tracking across the entire brain and present the results to neurosurgeons at BWH during the tumor resection procedure.

"This work would not be possible without the generous support of the National Science Foundation (NSF), and more specifically without the vision, hard work and tenacity of Dr. Frederica Darema, Senior Science andTechnology Advisor at NSF." Chrisochoides said.

NSF has funded Chrisochoides with more than $2 million during the past seven years he has been at William and Mary.

“Progress made in this very difficult problem is a result of a large scale collaboration and involves a group of Neurosurgeons lead by Dr. Peter Black and Dr. Alexandra Golby, a group of Radiologists lead by Dr. Ron Kikinis and Dr. Simon Warfield at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), Boston, MA, and an INRIA (Sophia-Antipolis), France team including Dr. Oliver Clatz and lead by Professor Nicholas Ayache – all part of a large interdisciplinary team put together during the last 14 years by Dr. Ferenc Jolesz and Dr. Ron Kikinis at Harvard Medical School,” Chrisochoides said.

He added that “the Guggenheim fellowship will help us to set the foundation for the next step which require, one, the use of the web and many supercomputers around the country to improve the accuracy of current results, two, widen the use of our work, through the web, from other hospitals in US and around the world, and three, train the next generation of researchers that can carry out a noble objective—better and more affordable health care for all.”

“This Fellowship means quite a lot to my research,” said Chrisochoides. “The Fellowship is in medicine and health, not computer science as one would expect, and it will open many more opportunities for our project.” Chrisochoides added that he will use the Fellowship to establish a new Center for Real-Time Computing at William and Mary and design three new courses on Medical Image Analysis at the college. He also hopes to find time for writing the first book on parallel mesh generation. “Parallel mesh generation is critical for real-time medical image analysis,” he added.

Chrisochoides is the fourth professor to receive the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship while on faculty at the College of William and Mary. Past William and Mary fellows are Professors James Axtel (History), Barbara King (Anthropology), and Talbot Taylor (English).

The Foundation notes that since 1925 it has granted over $256 million in Fellowships to more than 16,250 individuals. Fellowship decisions are based on recommendations from hundreds of expert advisors and are approved by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, which includes six members who are themselves past Fellows of the Foundation – Joel Conarroe, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard A. Rifkind, Charles Ryskamp, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and Edward Hirsch.

The full list of 2007 Fellows may be viewed at http://www.gf.org