3-D, virtual man simulates radiation's effect on the body

August 30, 1999

Xie George Xu, assistant professor of nuclear engineering and engineering physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has created a 3-D virtual man called "Visible Photographic Man" (VIP-Man) that is so sophisticated it can model the effects of radiation on the skin, lens of the eye, optic nerve, GI-tract mucous membranes, and bone marrow--areas previously too minute to accurately model, but which are highly susceptible to radiation.

These models are generated from Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Images (MRI), and photo images and data provided by The Visible Human Project (www.nlm.nih.gov/research/visible/) from the National Library of Medicine. Xu's work is expected to revolutionize radiation dosimetry related to biomedical sciences and engineering. It will allow patient CAT scans and MRI images to be coupled directly with a computer simulation program for more accurate treatment planning for diseases that require radiation therapy-such as cancer. Coupled with the latest computer technologies, Xu hopes to bring his research to clinical applications in a few years. Xu's research is of importance to radiation safety in the nuclear industry, medical treatment planning, and space radiation risk assessment for NASA.

For his work on VIP-Man, Xu received a 1999 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the biomedical engineering program of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CAREER award is one of the NSF's most competitive and prestigious awards.

The award will support Xu's further research and teaching in radiation dosimetry, and the development of techniques to determine effective and safe radiation doses to the human body.

Xu will receive an estimated $310,000 over four years, plus money for equipment and is also eligible for additional matching funding for industrial support.

Xu and his students are collaborating with researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and several hospitals. Xu's expertise also includes environmental radiation detection, and he is principal investigator on a $600,000 grant from U.S. Department of Energy and a $60,000 equipment grant from NSF.

A member of American Nuclear Society, Health Physics Society, and American Association for Physicists in Medicine, Xu is the president-elect of the Council on Ionizing Radiation Measurements and Standards.

Xu earned his bachelor's degree in physics from Xidian University in the People's Republic of China, and a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering/health physics from Texas A&M University. He joined Rensselaer in 1995 as a research assistant professor and became assistant professor in 1996.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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