Cancer Research UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) are investing £45 million over the five years from 2008 to 2013 in a nationwide initiative that will see the development and introduction of the latest imaging technologies to help advances in basic and clinical cancer research. Cancer Research UK will invest up to £30 million and the EPSRC will contribute £15 million in an exciting new strategic initiative that will establish the UK as a world leader in cancer imaging research.

This large investment, which includes £3 million from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and at least £250,000 from the Department of Health for England, will help improve the detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Four “cancer imaging centres” and “five cancer imaging programmes” have been funded.

The Royal Surrey County Hospital (RSCH), working with Surrey University, has been awarded one of the five programme grants of up to £2.5m for a 5 year programme of research into breast cancer imaging called OPTIMAM. The project establishes a multi-disciplinary and multi-centre consortium of radiologists, physicists and engineers lead by Professor Ken Young at the Royal Surrey County Hospital and University of Surrey and including co-investigator Dr Kevin Wells, from Surrey University’s Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP)

Prof. Ken Young is the lead investigator for the project and head of the National Co-ordinating Centre for the Physics of Mammography (NCCPM) run on behalf of the NHS Breast Screening Programme by the Department of Medical Physics, Royal Surrey County Hospital. NCCPM has a key role in ensuring the quality of the work of the NHSBSP and has a leading role in setting UK and European Standards for mammography systems.

The establishment of world leading research in cancer imaging at the Royal Surrey County Hospital and University of Surrey should enhance clinical services for breast cancer patients throughout the UK and internationally. Specifically we hope this research will improve the early detection of breast cancers in the NHS Screening Programme. Such an improvement should lead to a greater mortality reduction and reduced anxiety from unnecessary recalls after the initial screening.

Further research at CVSSP includes studies in medical imaging acquisition, including active pixel sensors, and medical imaging analysis, including partial volume modelling. The recent appointment of Professor Phil Evans will enable this research group to expand their research interests further into radiotherapy applications.

For more information about medical image acquisition and analysis please visit the current projects page on the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP) website.