Cancer Imaging Program

The Cancer Imaging Program (CIP) is led by Jennifer Barton, PhD Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Optical Sciences, Agriculture, and Biosystems Engineering and Evan C. Unger, MD, Professor of Radiology. Members of the CIP lead interdisciplinary and inter-programmatic activities such as the Center for Gamma Ray Imaging, a Biotechnology Resource Grant (5P41EB002035, P.I. Harrison H. Barrett, PhD, renewed in 2014).

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.

The Cancer Imaging Program has outstanding research projects exploring all of the major types of imaging—nuclear and x-ray imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, optical imaging and ultrasound imaging—as well as the development of advanced imaging contrast agents.


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, ways to improve reader efficiency and accuracy and FDA-approved diagnostic imaging agents.

New Technologies

Jennifer Barton, PhD; Arthur Gmitro, PhD; and Raymond Kostuk, PhD, are developing new optical imaging instruments to detect early-stage ovarian cancer. Ranging from optical coherence tomography to confocal microendoscopy to high-resolution holographic endoscopy, the new instruments are designed to provide the gynecologic oncologist with an assortment of new tools to visualize abnormal cells on the surface of the ovary and fallopian tubes.

The Right Treatment

Marty Pagel, PhD, is advancing imaging techniques to allow early assessment of treatments in individual patients. By being able to evaluate therapeutic response early during the course of treatment using a particular type of MRI scan, ineffective therapy can be stopped and an alternative treatment applied. This will save patients from the side effects of ineffective therapies and allow them to receive an effective therapy for their disease.


Radiologist Evan Unger, MD, is testing therapies for hypoxia, or low oxygen, in tumors. Dr. Unger’s focus is finding ways to infuse these tumors with oxygen while reducing potential side effects. In related research, Dr. Unger is developing microbubble technology, a procedure which injects millions of tiny bubbles in a patient’s bloodstream that would act as mirrors for ultrasound or as delivery systems for drugs or oxygen.