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Development of novel technologies for in vivo imaging. (Fellowships, Grants & Awards).

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the NIEHS invite applications for the development of novel image acquisition or enhancement methods, which may incorporate limited pilot or clinical feasibility evaluations using either preclinical models or clinical studies. This initiative is intended to facilitate the proof of feasibility and development of novel imaging technologies for early detection, screening, diagnosis, or image-guided treatment of cancer (NCI) and environmentally induced diseases (NIEHS), and to facilitate clinical evaluation studies of the development that are specifically limited to proof of concept. The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering may accept assignments of grant applications that address development of novel imaging technologies that are not organ- or disease-specific.

The motivation for this program announcement (PA) is that current technologies for the molecular analysis of disease are largely restricted to in vitro methods and need to be extended to the in vivo situation. Furthermore, development of molecular probes or tracers for imaging molecular events in preclinical and clinical investigations is essential for detection of molecular changes in vivo. Development of innovative high-resolution imaging methods at the cellular or molecular scales is needed, with particular emphasis on identification and characterization of processes in the early formation of disease or early molecular changes during intervention or therapy. Integrations of these emerging molecular imaging methods with advances in traditional imaging methods are also required for more effective in vivo investigations of environmentally induced disease and cancer.

Specific emphasis of this PA is directed at 1) the development of highly innovative image acquisition and enhancement methods, including high risk/high gain research on technologies that exploit our knowledge of the molecular basis of cancer and environmentally induced diseases, and 2) the development of other novel imaging methods and the integration of these technologies with emerging molecular imaging methods, where appropriate, for more effective health care delivery. The following objectives would make appropriate topics for proposed projects. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive.

1) Imaging to detect early changes: Development of innovative high-resolution imaging methods at the cellular or molecular scales is encouraged, with a particular intent to identify and characterize premalignant abnormalities or early changes preceding the development of other diseases. Novel solutions for in vivo microscopic imaging systems or microscopic implanted devices with high spatial, contrast, and temporal resolution are encouraged. Similarly, developments of contrast enhancement methods and imaging probes are also encouraged. Proposed imaging methodologies that emphasize analysis of molecular events on the path to disease are encouraged.

2) Large-scale screening applications for cancer and environmentally induced disease: Development and optimization of efficient, low-cost imaging systems for rapid and automated large-scale screening with the intent of achieving significantly higher sensitivity and specificity for disease detection is encouraged. Applications could address significant innovative improvements to current imaging methods or new emerging imaging systems. Research topics of interest include technologies for molecular imaging, means to significantly reduce imaging time or motion effects, use of novel contrast agents or imaging probes, and use of technologies that do not involve ionizing radiation. System integration could include a variety of image processing techniques including temporal analysis of serial studies, close to real-time image processing, novel image display methods, and related imaging informatics and information reduction methods for more cost-effective solutions for screening.

3) Imaging for diagnosis, staging, or monitoring the effects of therapy: This initiative encourages the development of novel imaging methods such as functional or molecular imaging or spectroscopy methods that would significantly improve the specificity of diagnosis of cancer and environmentally induced disease, allow deterministic methods or patient-specific staging, or measure early effects of therapy. Examples of system integration would include image fusion or registration from the different modalities employed, development of software methods that would estimate the probability of malignancy or other specific disease identification, quantitative information for monitoring the effects of therapy, and dose to real-time image analysis.

4) Image-guided biopsy (IGB), image-guided therapy (IGT), and interventional procedures: Novel approaches using imaging technologies are needed to significantly improve specificity, identify lesion extent and microscopic involvement, and minimize the tissue damage accompanying biopsy and therapy. Of particular interest are innovative approaches to IGB, IGT, or interventional methods that include novel imaging systems that provide information at the cellular or molecular level. Examples of system integration that are of interest include, but are not limited to, navigational systems, registration methods for several imaging modalities, real-time feedback mechanisms for controlling therapy, and methods that are adaptive or allow patient-specific optimization of treatment and computer-assisted surgery.

This PA will utilize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STYR) mechanisms, designed to encourage technology development by eligible small businesses. This PA must be read in conjunction with the current Omnibus Solicitation of the National Institutes of Health, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grant Applications ( funding/sbirsttrl/index.pdf).

The deadlines for letters of intent are 11 February 2002 and 11 June 2002, with final applications due 18 March 2002 and 16 July 2002. More information on this PA is available online at PAR-01-102.html.

Contact: Houston Baker, Biomedical Imaging Program, NCI, 6130 Executive Plaza, Suite 6000, Bethesda, MD 20892-7412 USA, 301-496-9531, fax: 301-480-3507, e-mail:; Jerrold J. Heindel, Organs and Systems Toxicology Branch, Division of Extramural Research and Training, NIEHS, PO Box 12233, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 USA, 919-541-0781, fax: 919-541-5064, e-mail: Reference: PA No. PAR-01-102
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Publication:Environmental Health Perspectives
Date:Nov 1, 2001
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