The Cancer Imaging Program (CIP) is led by Jennifer Barton, PhD, Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering, Biosystems Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Medical Imaging, and Optical Sciences, and Dongkyun Kang, PhD, Assistant Professor, Optical Sciences and Biomedical Engineering. 

The scientific goal of the Cancer Imaging Program (CIP) is to develop and apply imaging and sensing technologies and methods, to enable and enhance the primary mission of the University of Arizona Cancer Center, which is to prevent and cure cancer. Members of the CIP are working at the forefront of the field and are eminently successful in developing and utilizing the theoretical underpinnings of imaging science to apply and validate new imaging technologies in a wide array of critical cancer applications. To accomplish its goal, CIP has three inter-related and synergistic scientific aims:

  • To create and apply novel cancer imaging technology to accelerate discovery, enhance diagnosis and improve treatment
  • To increase image information content by understanding endogenous mechanism of contrast in cancer and developing targeted agents
  • To develop new image science and analysis for reconstruction and classification, including machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The research program is well integrated with key research organizations and facilities, such as the Center for Gamma Ray Imaging (CGRI), the Translational Bioimaging Resource, the University of Arizona/Banner University Medical Center Imaging Partnership facility, and the Ligand Discovery Laboratory (LDL) in BIO5. The CIP has particularly strong ties to the Department of Medical Imaging research and clinical faculty. The CIP is also strongly connected to the Departments of Pathology, Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Radiation Oncology, and Physiology in the College of Medicine, as well as to the Biomedical Engineering (BME) program and the College of Optical Sciences.

Through collaborative research and shared goals, the CIP is integrated with the other principal University of Arizona Cancer Center scientific programs, which include the Cancer Biology Program, the Cancer Prevention and Control Program and the Therapeutic Development Program. Members of the CIP actively support the University of Arizona Cancer Center Imaging Resource and utilize it and the other core facilities of the University of Arizona Cancer Center to carry out their research in cancer imaging.

Program Goals

The CIP seeks to accomplish its goals by 1) promoting advances in imaging science and technology and their application in the context of cancer biology, early cancer detection, development and monitoring of cancer therapies, and cancer prevention studies, and 2) promoting translation of the science into clinical trials and the development and testing of new technologies in the clinic through investigator-initiated clinical trials (IITs) and coordinated validation at other clinical sites.

Cancer Imaging Membership

A key component to the Imaging Program is its translational aspects. An interdisciplinary team of researchers works together to take new imaging techniques and discoveries into the clinic. Projects include new ways to measure tumor response by CT, MRI and ultrasound, miniaturized optical imaging methods for early cancer detection, low-cost optical imaging devices for cancer detection in low-resource settings, algorithms to improve imaging system and reader efficiency and accuracy, and development of diagnostic imaging contrast agents.