Electrical engineering faculty members receive grant to develop virtual labs for medical imaging courses

Righetti Mug (2)Two professors in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University have received a grant from MathWorks to develop virtual labs for medical imaging courses.

Drs. Jim Ji, associate professor in the department, and Rafaella Righetti, assistant professor, along with Dr. Dalun Zhang, associate professor in education psychology, proposed to develop Matlab-based lab projects to enhance the biomedical imaging curriculum in the department.

They believe that with an aging world population and increasingly more expensive healthcare systems, a pipeline of well-equipped engineers will be required to sustain, develop and innovate the affordable biomedical imaging technologies. As in many universities over the world, the biomedical imaging program has grown dramatically over the past two decades at Texas A&M, including a growing demand for the core biomedical imaging courses. The large student population in these courses created an unprecedented challenge: how to offer students a hands-on learning experience with limited access to the expensive imagers and scanners due to the cost and time constraints.

Ji NewThe specific objective of their proposal is to develop Matlab based modeling and simulation modules that will enable students to learn, through interactive computer lab projects, fundamental concepts and skills in two biomedical imaging modalities: (1) ultrasound imaging including A mode, M mode, and B mode imaging; and (2) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) including basic k-space data acquisition and image reconstruction.

The developed modules and datasets will be incorporated and evaluated in two popular undergraduate courses at Texas A&M (ECEN 410 Introduction to Medical Imaging and ECEN 412 Ultrasound Imaging) and made public to peer institutions. The proposed development will hopefully have a high, broader impact to bioimaging education, particularly for universities and colleges that lack access to teaching scanners. 

Ji joined the department in the fall of 2003 in the Biomedical Imaging and Genomic Signal Processing area. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China in 1996 and 1997 respectively. He received his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

His research interests are in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) using array systems and constrained mathematical models, tomographic image reconstruction and analysis, and their applications in cardiac imaging and cancer imaging. Ji’s CAREER activities at the Magnetic Resonance Systems Lab (MRSL) in the ECE Department focus on developing next generation signal processing algorithms that uses massive arrays for high-speed and high-field MRI.

Righetti joined the electrical engineering department at Texas A&M in 2007. She received her Doctor of Engineering from the Universitá degli Studi di Firenze, Florence, Italy, and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Houston.

Righetti’s formal training is in ultrasound imaging with special emphasis in cancer imaging applications. She has published articles in leading journals in the area of ultrasound and elasticity imaging and serves as a reviewer of several major journals in the field of biomedical imaging. Her current research, under continuous supports by DOD, focuses on novel 3D ultrasound imaging technologies and ultrasound-based elastogrophy. Her work has been featured in the Fortune Magazine in recent years.