Radonc/BME Medical Image and
Computational Analysis Laboratory
Heather Lacy
Nutritional Science, pre-Med
2014-15 College of Medicine University Scholar
expected graduation: Spring 2015

email link
  1. Research Overview

    Quantifying Arterial Pruning from Birth to Adulthood in Children Born Prematurely

    Background and Significance
    Each year in the United States 1 out of 8 babies that are born are prematurely; less than 37 weeks gestational age. Those that make it into childhood face additional medical issues such as respiratory distress syndrome, bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), lung disease and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Chronic PAH can be fatal due to the damage it causes to the vascular endothelium which in turn leads to progressive occlusion and pruning away of the arterioles.

    My hypothesis is that those who are born prematurely and develop chronic PAH will have a progression in the amount of occlusion and pruning away of the arterioles as they grow and develop further into adulthood.

    I will receive chest CT scans of patients seen at the UF Health Shands Pediatric Pulmonary Care center. I will focus on children who are in the age range between 3-18 years old; analyzing each chest CT scan using software tools specifically developed in Dr. O'Dell's research lab. Charting information related to the number of vessels at each size in a diagram form will allow us to correlate the age of the patient with the amount of pruning of the arterioles.

    Immediate Research Objectives
    For the project year I will analyze 30-40 chest CT scans of premature patients. Under the supervision of Dr. O'Dell I will make charts that correlate vascular pruning with the developmental stage of the patient. I will present my final findings through the University Research Undergraduate Symposium and at least one national conference. I chose a research project in pediatric pulmonary disease because it compliments my volunteer work with hospitalized children and their families within Shands Child Life.

  2. Related MIACALab projects
    1. Vessel Segmentation

  3. Close Research Collaborators
    1. W. O'Dell, PhD (Radiation Oncology Research)
    2. Satya Hegde, MD (Pediatric Pulmonology)
    3. Sreekala Prabhakaran, MD (Pediatric Pulmonology)