The research interests of Cynthia H. McCollough, Ph.D., revolve around the technology of CT imaging and its many clinical applications.
As director of Mayo Clinic's CT Clinical Innovation Center, Dr. McCollough leads a multidisciplinary team of physicians, scientists, research fellows and graduate students on projects seeking to detect and quantify disease using CT imaging. She has particular expertise in the use of CT for quantitative assessment of material composition, disease progression or regression, and organ function, as well as methods to quantify and reduce patient dose.
- Quantification, management and reduction of radiation dose in CT imaging. Dr. McCollough is particularly interested in developing robust and pragmatic tools for estimating the radiation dose received from CT imaging, and in providing accurate, balanced information regarding the benefits and safety of CT scanning.
- Noninvasive evaluation of material composition using dual energy and multienergy CT. An ongoing focus of investigation in Dr. McCollough's laboratory is the use of energy-dependent measurements to identify material composition. Applications include the noninvasive characterization of kidney stones, the differentiation of gout from pseudogout, and the automated removal of iodine- or calcium-containing signals from CT data sets.
- Optimization of CT examination parameters through use of human and model observers. Efforts to reduce the dose associated with CT imaging must be carefully evaluated to ensure that the diagnostic content of the images is not compromised, limiting the value of the CT examination. Using radiologist readers and mathematical models, Dr. McCollough and her team are working to develop efficient methods for determining the minimum dose levels needed for specific diagnostic tasks.
- Translation of emerging CT technology into routine clinical practice. Together with her clinical colleagues, Dr. McCollough works to make a difference in patient care by bringing the latest CT imaging technology to bear on clinical dilemmas. This requires strong collaborations with multiple departments throughout Mayo Clinic, and has resulted in the development and implementation of now-routine clinical exams such as CT enterography and dual energy CT.
Significance to patient care
CT scans are used now more than ever in medicine; they are fast, readily available, and can diagnose and guide treatment for a wide range of conditions. Dr. McCollough's work focuses on maximizing the benefit and minimizing the risk of CT. She and her team are developing ways to keep radiation exposures as low as possible, while maintaining the needed image quality.
They are also working to improve the benefits from CT imaging by developing new techniques to diagnose diseases that CT, or other methods, previously could not diagnose, as well as to develop quantitative measures of the extent of disease in order to evaluate disease progression or regression.
- Chairperson, Biomedical Imaging Technology A Study Section, National Institutes of Health, 2014-present
- Fellow, American College of Radiology, 2008-present
- Fellow, American Association of Physicists in Medicine, 2007-present
- U.S. representative to the International Electrotechnical Commission's CT Standards Committee, 2002-present
- Council member, National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, 2003-2009