Researchers from New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) have secured $426,621 in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the acquisition of a micro-computed tomography machine.
Aimed at enhancing the programs of individual researchers and forging new collaborations with neighboring institutions, the machine, also known as a "micro-CT scanner," will be housed in NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine's (NYITCOM) Data Visualization Lab on the Long Island (Old Westbury) campus. Available free of charge to both faculty and student researchers from NYIT and other institutions, the micro-CT scanner will aid in strengthening interdisciplinary research in the greater New York metropolitan scientific community.
According to lead investigator Simone Hoffmann, Ph.D., assistant professor of Anatomy, NYITCOM, the grant will enable NYIT to become one of the region's few institutions to offer micro-CT scanning capabilities without a fee.
"As a researcher, it's very difficult to complete your study when each scan comes with a substantial price tag," said Hoffmann. "Increased accessibility to this technology will help establish NYIT as a central research facility on Long Island, and nurture innovative research in biology, paleontology, nanotechnology, engineering, and life sciences."
Using x-ray imaging technology similar to the CAT scans found in hospitals, micro-CT scanners allow an object's internal spaces to be visible at the microscopic level, and recreate virtual 3-D models without dissection, which is damaging to the original specimen. With this capability, Hoffmann and her anatomy colleagues will soon view the internal morphology of fossils, measure bone density, map the internal structure of the brain, and closely examine intricate vessels and other soft tissue structures - tasks that would have previously required dissection.
Researchers from the institution's College of Engineering and Computing Sciences and College of Arts and Sciences will also benefit, including bioengineer Azhar Ilyas, Ph.D., assistant professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering. Ilyas, who was a co-investigator for the grant, will leverage the new micro-CT scanner to analyze bone regeneration and repair.
"While current data partially explains the complex biological pathways through which bone is regenerated, much remains to be understood about the host tissue interactions and fracture repair process. The acquisition of this new imaging technology will allow us to answer many of those questions," said Ilyas.
In addition to advancing faculty research at NYIT, the new technology will expand opportunities for student experiential learning. Engineering faculty and students plan to incorporate the CT-based technology into the Cultivating Resources for Employment with Assistive Technology (CREATE) program, which develops technologies to assist people with disabilities in their work environments. Likewise, College of Arts and Sciences students will participate in faculty-led investigations to examine data retrieved during scanning.