UW radiologist wins $4.5M NIH mammo/AI grant

By AuntMinnie.com staff writers

February 26, 2020 -- Dr. Christoph Lee of the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle has secured a research award for $4.5 million from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore the use of artificial intelligence (AI) with mammography.

The Method to Extend Research Time (MERIT) award will support Lee's research over seven years, the university said. His project is called "Artificial intelligence for improved breast cancer screening accuracy: External validation, refinement, and clinical translation."

Screening mammography has been shown to save lives, but radiologist interpretation of the exams can be imperfect, Lee wrote in his research abstract. This includes around 30,000 missed breast cancers and 3.8 million false-positive exams each year in the U.S. alone.

"Recent advances in improved computer processing power, cloud-based data storage capabilities, and availability of large imaging datasets have led to renewed excitement for applying artificial intelligence (AI) to mammography interpretation," he wrote. "We propose a unique academic-industry partnership to validate, refine, scale, and clinically translate our proven 2D mammography AI algorithm to 3D mammography interpretation."

The NIH award extends a researcher's original project grant for five to seven years; the institute chooses only eight proposals each year for the extension, according to the university.

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