UCSF and GE Healthcare announce cancer research collaboration

By Wallace Ravven

Sarah Nelson, PhD -----

The University of California, San Francisco today announced a collaboration with GE Healthcare, a unit of General Electric Company (NYSE: GE), to develop new technology for clinical use that tracks real-time changes in tissue metabolism with unprecedented sensitivity.

The collaboration will focus on developing new magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and spectroscopy techniques that are expected to enable earlier diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases tailored to individual patients.

The pre-clinical and clinical studies will be carried out at the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research, or QB3, headquartered at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus.

“Although MR images are widely used in a clinical setting, the information they provide is often limited, resulting in diseases such as cancer being detected only late in their cycle—when treatments are costly or ineffective,” said Sarah Nelson, PhD, UCSF professor of radiology and director of the Surbeck Laboratory of Advanced Imaging at QB3.

“Improved characterization of the disease is critical in efforts to influence the chances of survival and make more treatment options available. The high field MR scanners at QB3 will significantly improve sensitivity and specificity, allowing us to more effectively target therapy and provide non-invasive biomarkers of response to new therapies,” she said.

The technology is intended to aid in four major stages of disease identification and treatment - prediction, screening, diagnosis and treatment. Ultimately, the collaboration and resulting technology could be used as a model for changing and improving the way a variety of cancers and other diseases are treated.

“The ultimate goal of the collaboration between GE Healthcare and UCSF is to redefine the detection, diagnosis and treatment timeline of diseases such as prostate cancer,” said Bill Clarke, executive vice president and chief technology and medical officer at GE Healthcare. “Better outcomes are dependent on earlier diagnosis followed by treatment tailored to the individual patient. This is a holistic and patient-focused approach. We believe it can have a meaningful and positive impact on people suffering from this life-threatening disease.”

As part of the collaboration, GE has agreed to contribute knowledge in advanced imaging techniques. UCSF is providing computational and clinical expertise.

“Understanding how and where disease begins provides the opportunity to better predict that disease, select treatment that is most compatible with the individual, and start that treatment at the earliest possible moment to increase the chances of survival,” said Clarke.
UCSF is a leading university that consistently defines health care worldwide by conducting advanced biomedical research, educating graduate students in the life sciences, and providing complex patient care. 

GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies that are shaping a new age of patient care. GE Healthcare’s expertise in medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring and life support systems, disease research, drug discovery, and biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies is helping physicians detect disease earlier and to tailor personalized treatments for patients. GE Healthcare offers a broad range of products and services that are improving productivity in healthcare and enhancing patient care by enabling healthcare providers to better diagnose and treat cancer, heart disease, neurological diseases, and other conditions. 

Headquartered in the United Kingdom, GE Healthcare is a $15 billion unit of General Electric Company (NYSE: GE). Worldwide, GE Healthcare employs more than 43,000 people committed to serving healthcare professionals and their patients in more than 100 countries. More information is available at:

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