McGoughRobert J. McGough, an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, recently received a $1.3 million NIH R01 grant to develop new algorithms for medical ultrasound.  Congratulations!

Diagnostic ultrasound uses high frequency, low intensity sound waves to noninvasively image inside the human body.  Diagnostic ultrasound is a real-time imaging modality that is portable, safe, and cost-effective.  Established uses of diagnostic ultrasound include imaging during pregancy and for imaging the heart, blood vessels, thyroid, breast, prostate, liver, and kidney.

In contrast, therapeutic ultrasound delivers high frequency sound waves at a much higher intensity to treat or destroy diseased tissues.  Applications of therapeutic ultrasound include noninvasive methods for cancer therapy, for achieving targeted drug delivery, and for treating essential tremor.

Dr. McGough is presently developing new techniques to extend the capabilities of diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound, and Dr. McGough is also creating new analytical and numerical models that will enable important enhancements to several interesting new developments in medical ultrasound.  For example, Dr. McGough’s group is presently developing methods to simulate ultrasound-based treatments of brain tumors through the intact skull.  This is a challenging problem because none of the existing software that is presently used for simulations of medical ultrasound is capable of effectively modeling the very large peak pressures (50+ MPa) that are required for this application.  This research is particularly important for the design and optimization of these specialized ultrasound devices, which would otherwise require several expensive, time-consuming design and evaluation cycles.

Dr. McGough’s research group is also actively creating new ultrasound-based approaches for imaging with shear waves.  Shear waves provide a unique approach for noninvasively and quantitatively ‘palpating’ suspicious lesions that are ‘stiffer’ than background tissues.  The computational approaches that are presently used for modeling shear waves in medical ultrasound have significant limitations, and present methods for estimating shear wave parameters also have serious deficiencies.  The new methods developed by Dr. McGough’s group are expected to solve both of these problems.

Dr. McGough’s work has great potential to achieve both immediate and long-term impact across the entire field of medical ultrasound, particularly for ultrasound treatments for brain tumors through the intact skull, for shear wave elasticity imaging, and for other emerging applications of diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound.  The outcome of this research will facilitate rapid assessment of critical quantities that are difficult, time-consuming, and/or expensive to measure while enabling the design and optimization of exciting new medical ultrasound procedures.