Ohio State and GE form imaging research institute

May 10, 2000

GE Medical Systems and Ohio State University are collaborating to develop an institute where researchers on OSU’s Columbus campus can address medical imaging issues that cross several medical specialties, including cardiology, radiology, oncology,

GE Medical Systems and Ohio State University are collaborating to develop an institute where researchers on OSU’s Columbus campus can address medical imaging issues that cross several medical specialties, including cardiology, radiology, oncology, and surgery.

The goal of this Advanced Biomedical Imaging Institute will be to develop and rapidly transfer ideas into mainstream medical practice, using GE as the conduit. The collaboration could signify a major change in the way academia and corporations work together.

“What GE wants from academic relationships now is deliverables,” said Dr. Bradford Stokes, associate dean for research in graduate education at the OSU College of Medicine. “They want to see that we can identify a mutually interesting problem, that we can provide the staff and the patients, and that we can move forward together.”

One “deliverable” in this case is the management to carry out projects, Stokes said. Other deliverables will be tied to specific research projects, the results of which will have practical and beneficial effects for GE products. Initially, the focus will be on advanced imaging technology as a means of assessing cardiac disease.

“It was a choice made by GE on the basis of existing strengths here (at OSU) and their capabilities in the field of cardiology,” Stokes said. “But we want to go forward on a number of different tracks, not just cardiology.”

OSU faculty have defined about a half-dozen research proposals to be addressed in the next several years, he said. They involve teams of GE and OSU staff working toward mutually agreed-upon objectives. Topics will be explored using at least some GE equipment acquired by OSU under the partnership.

In cardiology, GE is seeking new clinical opportunities across a broad range of imaging modalities. In the last two years, the vendor has introduced a multislice scanner, a dedicated cardiovascular MRI, and, most recently, a digital cardiac cath system based on flat-panel technology.

“We consider this both a commercial and a research partnership,” said Paul Mirabella, president and CEO of GEMS. “This is certainly not an equity-based partnership, but rather it is based on the fact that we see a lot of complementary research going on.”

The company and OSU signed a master agreement in early April, establishing the terms for technology licensing and research, as well as the acquisition of GE imaging equipment by the university. The agreement came after about six months of negotiating and due diligence by both parties, according to Stokes.

“They spent a lot of time on campus meeting with different groups of faculty in areas of imaging that might represent product line development,” he said. “We looked at GE for support in areas of research interest oriented around this theme of an academic imaging institute on the Ohio State campus.”

On the day the master agreement was signed, collaborative research officially began. One of the projects is designed to examine the use of MRI to evaluate myocardial ischemia in women. Follow-up studies will likely extend the imaging technology to flat-panel cardiac cath and CT, Stokes said.

“GE is evolving a variety of new technologies,” he said. “The issue obviously is applications. We don’t yet know how to combine these applications in ways that are best for the patient.”

An integrated approach to evaluating the patient is currently lacking in medical practice, Stokes said. The goal of collaborative research between OSU and GE is to come up with such an approach.

“We don’t want bits of information scattered all around the medical center,” he said.

Faculty from several different colleges on the OSU campus will be part of the proposed Advanced Biomedical Imaging Institute. These will include staff representing medicine as well as computer science, biotechnology, and engineering. GE will also be contributing its own engineers to serve on-site.

“This organization is starting from the ground up,” Mirabella said.