28. August 2012

ERC Grant for the development of a new imaging method with high potential clinical impact

Marco Stampanoni, Assistant Professor for X-ray microscopy at the ETH Zürich and Head of the “X-ray Tomography Group” of the SLS has been recently awarded one of the coveted European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant for the project PhaseX: “Phase contrast X-ray imaging for medicine”. Marco Stampanoni’s project will be supported by the ERC with 1.5 million euros for the next 5 years. The highly competitive ERC Starting Grants are reserved for outstanding young research talents.

With his team, Stampanoni has been working on the development of phase contrast X-ray imaging methods since several years. This technique can potentially revolutionize the radiological approach to medical imaging because it is intrinsically capable of detecting subtle differences in the electron density of soft tissue and of measuring the effective integrated local small-angle scattering power generated by the microscopic density fluctuations in a specimen. It goes therefore well beyond the conventional, absorption-based approach used daily in the clinical routine which usually lacks in contrast when imaging soft-tissue. Stampanoni’s ERC project aims at transferring this technique -- so far successfully and efficiently implemented exclusively on synchrotron -- to the clinical environment, with the final purpose to provide medical doctors a new, powerful diagnostic tool. A few preliminary applications of the method have been investigated in the field of mammography and Alzheimer research already.