The Center for Medical Imaging of West China Hospital of Sichuan University, the comprehensive center for medical imaging, education and research, was comprised of three departments (Radiology, Ultrasound and Nuclear Medicine), two research center (Huaxi Magnetic Resonance Research Center and the Neuroimaging Center), and two laboratories (lab of ultrasound medicine and the lab of nuclear medicine, the latter is the provincial key lab). The foundation of the Center for Medical Imaging promotes the collaboration between departments and the cultivation of specialists, and therefore sets up a comprehensive and substantial platform for the discipline of medical imaging and nuclear medicine in Sichuan University. From the year of 2007, the discipline is awarded the National Key Discipline, from a prestigious national seeding preprogram for most accomplished institution/department in the field, the only one newly awarded subsequent to other three universities. Currently, Professor Qiyong Gong is the Chair of the Center for Medical Imaging(CMI).
In the Center for Medical Imaging, medical imaging is integrated with related basic science and clinical medicine; highly qualified specialists are cultivated or enrolled from a world-wide scope. With years of development, a high-level academic group organized by specialists of medical imaging together with related specialists of clinical medicine, preclinical medicine and basic science has been built up. This group includes professors and associate professors, chairman and vice chairman of the academic committee of the Chinese Radiological Society, chief editors of national and international journals, winner of the National Award of Excellent Young Scientist, and many provincial academic leaders. Currently the Center for Medical Imaging is equipped with more than 60 sets of advanced apparatus, including dual energy CT, 320-multidetector CT, three 3T MR scanners for human beings and one 7T MR scanner for animals, PET-CT, and advanced ultrasound devices. The high-level academic group and the up-to-date equipment keep the Center for Medical Imaging at the forefront of medical imaging, education and research of West China.
2. Clinical prodctivity
West China Hospital is currently one of the largest hospitals in the world. The clinical works of the Center for Medical Imaging also stands at the first-grade of Chinese hospitals. In the year of 2008, more than 500,000 cases received examination and therapy in the center, and the number keeps increasing by 20% each year. Medical service provided by the center covers a range from head to foot and includes multiple examination methods. Besides diagnostic imaging, interventional therapy and radionuclide therapy are also available as daily service. Many up-to-date technologies are widely employed in clinical works, including 64-MDCT imaging of coronary artery, MR angiography of multi-system, functional imaging of the brain, molecular imaging using PET-CT, et al. In particular, several aspects are considered to be our highlights:
3. Highlights on Diagnostic Imaging：
1) Radiological diagnosis of disease involving the abdominal cavity and the retroperitoneal space.
2) Screening and Diagnosis of early-age hepatic cellular cancer (HCC). With refined imaging methods, the diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of HCC is improved to 92.6% and 95.8% (according to a sample of 356 cases), respectively.
3) Application of multiple functional imaging methods including fMRI, DTI and MRS et al. to the central nervous system has broken the diagnostic ‘blind zone’ of medical imaging in many neurological and psychiatrical disorders such as depression, schizophrenia and epilepsy.
4) Screening of lung cancer with low-dose spiral CT.
5) Imaging of coronary artery using 64-MDCT.
6) Ultrasonic diagnosis of mammal mass. Owing to a database of 5,100 mammal masses, the diagnostic accuracy is improved to about 95%.
Highlights on Interventional / radionuclide therapy：
1) Superselective chemotherapy or embolization of lung cancer and HCC.
2) Interventional diagnosis and therapy of cerebra vascular disease.
3) Balloon plasty of stenosis of oesophagus.
4) Interventional therapy of vertebral compression and intervertebral disk hernia.
5)Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS).
6) Radionuclide therapy of Graves’ hyperthyroidism, DTC, bone metastases et al.
7) Ultrasound-guided interventional therapy.
4. Medical Education
The Center for Medical Imaging is one of the major center cultivating highly-qualified specialists of medical imaging and nuclear medicine. As a part of the university hospital, each department of the center had been providing education for medical students since the day of its foundation (the earliest among them is from 1924). From 1978, the discipline had been approved to award master’s degree, and from 1993 it had been approved to award doctor’s degree.
Years of cultivation and continuous enrollment have rewarded the Center for Medical Imaging with highly qualified faculty members, including 12 doctor advisors and 25 master advisors. From 2001 to 2006, 76 doctoral students and 126 master students were enrolled and most of them had been awarded academic degree. In addition, 3 post-doctoral fellows have finished their researches in the center. Among them there is a nominee of the Young Investigator Award of the 2008 ISMRM, which is the first one in Chinese students for the award. From 2001 to 2006, postgraduate students had published more than 20 papers on the SCI Journals and had attended more than 20 international meetings such RSNA and ISMRM for oral presentation.
The Center for Medical Imaging initiated professional education of medical imaging technology as the first department of medical imaging technology in China was set up in 1997. And from the year of 2005, the center initiated the standardized 2-year training of medical imaging technologists.
The Center for Medical Imaging also initiated the standardized 5-year training of residents of medical imaging and nuclear medicine since 2003. Residents admitted in the residency come from various provinces of China.
Since the year of 2004, the Huaxi-Jefferson ultrasound education center was setup based on the cooperation between the department of ultrasound and the American Thomas-Jefferson ultrasound education center. Until now up to 370 ultrasound specialists have received training in this center.
The department of nuclear medicine is the training base of professional doctors of the Ministry of Health of China. Training course of radionuclide therapy has been held for 10 times and up to 1,000 professional doctors were trained in the center.
In addition, the Center for Medical Imaging also provides English educational service for oversea students from India, Pakistan, Nepal et al.
The inter-discipline cooperation between medical imaging and related science enables the faculty to carry out in-depth scientific researches. Owe to years of efforts, the center has made some achievements regarded as the milestone. In the year 2002, this discipline was awarded the Provincial Key Discipline, and in 2007 it was awarded the National Key Discipline.
Research Funds: Many national research projects have been brought out in the Center for Medical Imaging, including the National Research and Development Program (known as the ‘863’ project), the National Key Basic Research Development Plan (known as the ‘973’ project), the National Natural Science Foundation Committee (NSFC). Total funds are up to 10.36 million RMB. At present many ‘863’ and ‘973’ projects and NSFC-British Royal Society collaboration projects are being carried out in the center. The total funds are more than 6.00 million RMB.
Scientific publications: more than 600 scientific papers were published on national and international core journals. 8 monographs and 10 textbooks in which faculty members participated as editors-in-chief were published. Among them, the research paper ‘High-field MRI reveals an acute impact on brain function in survivors of the magnitude 8.0 earthquake in China’ conducted by Prof. Qiyong Gong was published on the 2009 PANS and was cited and reported by mass media. And the textbook ‘Medical Imageology’ whose chief-editor is Prof. Xiangping Zhou, is awarded the 2009 ‘elite textbook’ by the Ministry of Education.
6. Scientific awards and patents
Many scientific awards were conferred, including: National Third-grade Award for the Progress of Science and Technology, the Second-grade Award for Progress of Science and Technology conferred by the Ministry of Health, the First, Second and Third-grade Provincial Award for the Progress of Science and Technology, and the Second-grade Award for the Progress of Science and Technology conferred by the Chinese Medical Association. HMRRC also holds several patents.
After many years’ continuous development, the Center for Medical Imaging exhibits research potential in six fields as following:
1) Nuclear Medicine
PIs: Prof. Anren Kuang, and Prof. Lin Li
In this domain, scientific research has been focusing on: receptor imaging and receptor-mediated radionuclide targeting therapy; gene imaging and gene transfection-mediated radionuclide targeting therapy; I-131 therapy for thyroid diseases; radionuclide therapy for bone metastases; and bio-medical imaging and processing. The department of nuclear medicine also holds the following renowned titles: the key laboratory of Sichuan province, the key clinical project for the heavy investment and construction of the Ministry of Health, one of the four sites nationwide for granting doctoral degree.
2) MR imaging of neurological and psychiatric disorders
PI: Prof. Qiyong Gong. MD. PhD
Dr. Gong’s team research mainly involve MR image analysis including morphormetry, tissue characterization, spectroscopy, fMRI and molecular MRI. His translational research interest was previously the development and the application of MR quantitative method in neuro-abnormalities (i.e., Fetal brain growth retardation, brain tumor, multiple sclerosis and the patient with impaired memory), and recently has been in imaging characterization of psychiatric illness, for example using novel neuroimaging techniques to study the mood disorders and first-episode schizophrenia.
So Far, Dr. Gong has obtained 15 grants for research including the most recent fund awarded by the Royal Society, UK. He has recently been awarded with the Distinguished Young Scholar by the Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). Dr. Gong is also the author of 50 peer-reviewed SCI articles including those on PNAS, Am J Psychiatry, Radiology, NeuroImage, JMRI, MRI, BJR and Neuroradiology, and is by far cited more than 500 times by well-known journals such as Nature Neuroscience. He has contributed to more than 50 scientific presentations at international congresses including those of RSNA, ECR, HBM and ISMRM, as well as given Invited Lectures to and also acted as the session moderator or chairmen at international conferences including ECR, AOCR, IRIA, and World Psychiatric Association (WPA) Regional Conference. In addition, Dr. Gong reviews for several international scientific journals on MR imaging, normal brain and neuro-psychiatric diseases, amongst them Biological Psychiatry, Neuroimaging and Human Brain Mapping.
3) Radiological anatomy studies of abdomen and functional studies of abdominal organs
PIs：Prof. Xiangping Zhou, Prof. Bing Song
Researches in this domain are focused on the interconnection of abdominal cavity and retroperitoneal space, the imaging of HCC, the imaging of portal vein and in-vivo liver transplant, and the imaging of gallbladder carcinoma and pancreatic carcinoma. Their efforts assist the radiological diagnosis of disease involving the abdominal cavity and the retroperitoneal space, and facilitate the diagnostic imaging and interventional therapy of liver, gallbladder and pancreas cancer. In this domain totally 7 national funds from the NSFC and 3 national or provincial awards have been granted, more than 10 original articles have been published on SCI journals such as Radiology.
4) Medical imaging of lung cancer, coronary artery disease and heart valve disease
PIs：Prof. Xiangping Zhou, Prof. Bin Song
Research group engaged in this domain focuses their study on the screening of lung cancer with low-dose spiral CT and Imaging of coronary artery disease and heart valve diseases using 64-MDCT. In this domain more than 10 articles have been published on SCI journals.
5) MR molecular imaging
PI：Prof. Fabao Gao
Researches in this domain were focused on the early diagnosis and therapeutic effect evaluation of tumor, and early diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. Currently, two research projects funded by the NSFC and the Ministry of Health are being carried out.
6) Ultrasonic technology study
PI：Prof. Yan Luo
Researches in this domain are devoted to the recognition, postprocessing, achieving, and communication of ultrasound images. A huge ultrasound database containing 600,000 cases was set up and online search and comparison of data within 5 years is now available. And the case number keeps climbing up every day. In this domain totally 4 provincial funds, 8 national and provincial awards were granted, and 200 academic articles were published including 5 SCI papers.