Carnegie Mellon's Jessica Zhang Develops Tools For Monitoring and Tracking Tumors for Improved Lung Cancer Diagnosis
November 2, 2011
Contact: Chriss Swaney
Carnegie Mellon University
PITTSBURGH—The statistics are grim. It is estimated that 215,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and 150,000 of them will die this year.
But Carnegie Mellon University's Jessica Zhang is providing some light at the end of a very dark tunnel with new tools to help speed lung cancer diagnosis.
Zhang, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has developed 4-D modeling for lung cancer radiation therapy.
"What our new computational modeling framework does is give technicians an image-based geometric way of tracking lung cancer tumors through multiple layers of tissue and through variations in breathing," said Zhang. "The software tool is still in the research stage. Ultimately, we hope to see it deployed in clinical treatment."
Prior to Zhang's new modeling framework, there lacked quantitative modeling of internal organ motion. "Our modeling tools now give technicians the ability to target very specific areas of the lung instead of the old way of blasting a large segment of the lung which significantly increased treatment-related toxicities," according to Zhang.
Because lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., Zhang said it was imperative that her computational modeling provide a more accurate way of targeting and tracking tumors. And because effective cancer treatment requires complete destruction of cancerous cells while preserving the function of normal organs, Zhang's tools will help target treatments more efficiently.
Zhang received her bachelor's of science in automotive engineering in 1999 from Tsinghua University in China and a master's degree in aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics in 2002 and a Ph.D in computational engineering and engineering and sciences from the University of Texas at Austin in 2005.