A unique collaboration aims to turbo-charge what is already a strong state industry cluster. GE Healthcare is investing more than $3 million with UWM to support a “first of its kind” talent pipeline for Wisconsin-based medical imaging software developers and researchers. Through the five-year collaboration, UWM will launch the GE Healthcare Center for Advanced Computational Imaging and also provide continuing education opportunities for GE Healthcare technologists, driving a new age of health care technology globally.
Computational imaging is an emerging software capability that enables images of organs to be reconstructed without additional scans. Used in various medical exams – for instance, magnetic resonance and computed tomography – computational imaging allows physicians to complete scans of patients quickly and with greater detail.
“UWM will expand existing research and academic strengths with GE Healthcare – a world-class partner with offices that are literally right down the street from our new Innovation Campus in Wauwatosa,” says UWM Chancellor Michael R. Lovell.
Expertise in medical applications for computational imaging remains largely based in Silicon Valley. This unique collaboration between UWM and GE Healthcare will help expand the skilled workforce in Wisconsin, where more than 85 percent of UWM graduates have historically remained following graduation.
That’s good news for GE Healthcare, one of the state’s largest employers and one that is largely responsible for Wisconsin’s No. 3 ranking among states with high numbers of workers in the field of medical imaging.
“We want to draw from a strong talent pool of local people,” says Bill Berezowitz, a UWM engineering alumnus and GE Healthcare vice president of imaging subsystems. A unit of General Electric Company, GE Healthcare employs around 6,500 people in Wisconsin, of which 2,800 are engineers.
UWM’s first academic offering, in fall 2013, will be a graduate-level computational imaging certificate, alongside professional development curricula for GE Healthcare employees, according to Ethan Munson, chair of the Department of Computer Science and director of the new center.
In addition to education, the center will house research initiatives and collaborative projects related to image and signal processing for medical technology that may lead to earlier diagnosis of disease. “The future of medical imaging promises more advanced tools for clinicians and better care for pa- tients,” says Tom Gentile, president and CEO of GE Healthcare’s Healthcare Systems, based in Wisconsin. “We see a great opportunity for UWM to play a significant role in helping us provide advanced diagnostic tools that can help researchers discover lifesaving solutions.”
Munson notes that the work of the center will also reduce health care costs – a key business concern in the communities surrounding UWM. “The aim of this research is to generate software that can ultimately bring down the cost of producing these medical imaging devices, while also improving the quality of pictures the equipment can produce,” he says.