Dr. Randy H. Moss, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla, has received the 2003 John W. Claypool Award for Medical Research for his work on developing technology to help physicians diagnose skin cancer.
The Claypool Award, now in its second year, was created by UMR graduate John W. Claypool of Wildwood, Mo., to recognize outstanding medical research by UMR faculty. The award includes funding that goes toward the researcher’s efforts.
Last year’s recipient of the Claypool Award was Dr. Delbert Day, Curators’ Professor emeritus of ceramic engineering, for his work in developing irradiated glass beads for the treatment of liver cancer.
Since 1982, Moss and Rolla dermatologist Dr. William V. Stoecker have been developing image-processing and machine-vision techniques to help diagnose skin cancer. Working with Stoecker and several other researchers, Moss and a Ph.D. student, Ying Chang, have developed an artificial neural network system — a type of artificial intelligence program that is "trained" to recognize patterns — that can accurately recognize malignant melanomas, or cancerous skin lesions. A study of their work showed that the neural network system correctly diagnosed 96.9 percent of the malignant melanomas in one set of images. When not using any additional technology in the clinic, dermatologists correctly diagnose malignant melanomas between 82 percent and 88 percent of the time.
The artificial neural network system should help physicians more accurately diagnose skin cancer and perhaps catch problems earlier than usual, Moss says. He and his colleagues are developing a CD-ROM educational package for physicians, which will be distributed in the near future through the American Academy of Dermatology.
Working with Moss on this project are fellow UMR electrical and computer engineering faculty members Dr. R. Joe Stanley, assistant professor, Dr. Daryl Beetner, assistant professor, and Dr. Bojaya Shrestha, lecturer.
Claypool, a 1960 UMR mechanical engineering graduate, worked in the aerospace industry — for Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and General Dynamics — for several years prior to joining the St. Louis company his father founded, Claypool Pump and Machinery Co. His interest in medical research began when his late wife, Nancy Claypool, died of cancer in 1992.
Moss, a member of the UMR faculty since 1981, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Arkansas in 1975 and 1977, respectively, and his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1981.