Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         CONTACT:
November 20, 1998                                Michael Schneider
                                                 Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

Pittsburgh Team Wins HPC Challenge Award

Near Real-Time Brain Imaging Judged Most Insightful Application

PITTSBURGH — Inside an MRI scanner in Pittsburgh, a woman graduate student performed simple mental tasks. Seconds later, observers in Orlando, Florida watched 3-D movies showing what parts of her brain "lit up." For demonstrating this advanced imaging technology, a team of Pittsburgh researchers won the "Most Insightful Application" award at Supercomputing '98 in Orlando.

Developed by a team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Princeton University, the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), this technology links an MRI scanner at UPMC with PSC's CRAY T3E supercomputing system over high-speed networks. A series of complex data manipulations converts raw MRI data to 3-D images of the subject's brain, which are then transmitted and displayed on a visualization screen at a remote site, in this case the show floor at Orlando. Typically for this kind of research — known as "functional MRI" — it takes a day or more to produce 3-D images; the Pittsburgh team has cut the delay to seconds.

"Our demonstration showed how high-performance computing enables new developments in medical imaging," said PSC scientist Greg Hood, who led the demo team at SC '98. "Although currently used in brain research, this technology has many potential clinical applications, including surgical planning, MRI-guided surgery, drug evaluation and psychiatric diagnosis."

The Pittsburgh team first successfully demonstrated near real-time brain imaging in March 1998, producing 3-D animated images of a live subject in under 10 seconds. With further improvements, they have now cut the delay to about five seconds.

Supercomputing '98 is the 1998 annual conference of the supercomputing industry. For the SC '98 High Performance Computing Challenge, researchers presented their projects to a panel of judges representing industry, universities and government laboratories. The judges announced the awards on November 12 in Orlando.

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The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, a unit of Carnegie Mellon University, is a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh together with Westinghouse Electric Company. It was established in 1986 and is supported by several federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and private industry.

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Revised: November 20, 1998

URL: http://www.psc.edu/publicinfo/news/1998/meta_11-12-98.html