$1.8M NIH Award to Support Work into Robotic System Able to Better Detect Prostate Cancer

$1.8M NIH Award to Support Work into Robotic System Able to Better Detect Prostate Cancer
Haichong Zhang, an assistant professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, has been given a Director's Early Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support his work in designing a robotic system to better detect and monitor prostate cancer. Currently, prostate cancer is diagnosed via a blood test that measures levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA; a protein that rises in the blood of people with prostate cancer), a manual rectal examination, biopsies, and ultrasounds. None of these methods are perfect: biopsies often provide inaccurate information about tumor grade or stage, and less than half of abnormal manual rectal exams end up actually finding cancer. Many imaging techniques, like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), also require the use of a radioactive dye, which carries its own health risks. "Right now, the best methods for detecting prostate cancer early are not nearly as accurate as we need them to be, and they are not risk-free," Zhang, whose specialty is biomedical and robotics engineering, said in a press release. "My goal is to create a minimally invasive, easily accessible, and cost-effective way to better detect this cancer." The award includes $1.87 million given over the course of five years, for a project titled "Multiparametric Photo
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