Research team incorporates patient experience in developing imaging scanner

By Luis Velazquez, Contributing Writer

A research team at the University is working to develop an imaging scanner that takes into account the perspectives and experiences of head and neck cancer patients.

The project is led by engineering professor Shiva Abbaszadeh and is made possible by a $2 million grant she received from the National Institute of Health.

Deana McDonagh, professor in art and design and research collaborator for the project, was introduced to Shiva Abbaszadeh, in July.

Jinyi Qi, biomedical engineering professor at the University of California-Davis, also collaborated with Abbaszadeh on the project. Mohan Li, Abbaszadeh’s graduate student, has gained a fellowship to conduct research on the project.

McDonagh will be using her specialty in empathy for the development of the new imaging scanner. She will contribute to this research by providing the patients’ perspectives.

“I am really partnering with (Abbaszadeh) to make sure that we balance the emotional needs of the patient with the technical, medical and scientific needs of the clinician,” McDonagh said.

She said she is excited about being able to help the research demonstrate her principle in design research.

McDonagh’s contribution to the research of Abbaszadeh illustrates the importance of collaborating with different backgrounds of knowledge.

“Not only are we going to learn from each other, we’re going to grow,” she said “We are coming from different parts of the world here. Not just geographically but also mentally, how we’re trained. I’m very visual and spatial, and she comes from the technical scientific side.”

McDonagh believes at the end of the day, it is important to stand up for those who don’t have a voice, even when you have to stick your head on the block.

“This isn’t a job for me; this is a mission, and so I like to work with people that want to change the world and want to enrich the quality of life for others, and this project manifests all those things,” McDonagh said.

Abbaszadeh declined to comment on the story.

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