WashU Engineer to develop new imaging technique for brain injury

Hong Chen, an engineer at Washington University in St. Louis who studies medical ultrasound, has received a one-year, $277,400 grant from the Office of Naval Research to develop a new type of ultrasound technique that could better evaluate traumatic brain injury.

Hong Chen

With the funding, Chen will develop a magnetic resonance (MR)-compatible focused ultrasound system to be integrated with an existing small-animal MR scanner. The integrated system will be used to develop a novel imaging technique to evaluate deep brain tissue mechanical properties at high frequencies in an animal model. Her team will develop new hardware and software for the technique, which will allow researchers to accurately model traumatic brain injury.

Chen, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science and of radiation oncology at the School of Medicine, said the proposed system would enhance current research on the mechanical properties of the brain tissue with co-investigator Philip Bayly, the Lilyan & E. Lisle Hughes Professor of Mechanical Engineering and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science.

The award was given through the Department of Defense’s Defense 2017 University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP), which gave awards totaling $47 million to 160 researchers at 84 institutions from 685 applications. The program allows researchers to purchase state-of-the-art equipment to support cutting-edge defense research and graduate student training.

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