Missouri S&T professor awarded $440,000 from NIH for skin cancer detection research

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On May 8, 2024

Dr. Joe Stanley looks through a dermoscope — a device used to detect and examine skin cancer. Photo by Michael Pierce/Missouri S&T.

Dr. Joe Stanley looks through a dermoscope — a device used to detect and examine skin cancer. Photo by Michael Pierce/Missouri S&T.

A Missouri S&T computer engineering professor is working to improve the detection of skin cancer, and he was recently awarded a $440,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to support his efforts.  
“When skin cancer is detected early, it can be more effectively treated,” says Dr. Joe Stanley. “The publicly available dataset our research team is developing will help experts better do their jobs and make more informed diagnostic decisions.” 
For the three-year project, Stanley’s team will use tens of thousands of images already available through the International Skin Imaging Collaboration.  
Researchers will label and annotate skin lesions and other important features for detection, incorporate machine learning elements into the database and analyze statistics related to the different features.   
“Datasets already exist for skin cancer research, but they are all limited in scope or privately owned,” Stanley says. “What separates our work is the number of expert-driven details we will include, which will provide much more context for the imaging. Experts will be more involved in the process and provide the best information to guide the project’s machine learning aspects.” 
He says the database will be something medical doctors will use for training purposes so they can be more informed on the different attributes that can be found with skin cancer. Doctors will be better suited to conduct dermoscopies, or magnified inspections of the skin, and know what lesions and other attributes may be early signs of skin cancer. 
The platform will also be available for other skin cancer researchers to use for their work. 

Joshua Rogge, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering, looks through a dermoscope to learn more about the signs of skin cancer under the guidance of Drs. William Stoecker, left, and Joe Stanley. Photo by Michael Pierce/Missouri S&T.

“Our project will lead to a more meaningful large-scale source of information related to skin cancer that we will be excited to share with the world,” Stanley says. “It will also involve undergraduate and graduate students who will get some great experiences, and we will discuss the work as part of educational outreach efforts with high school students.” 
Dr. V.A. Samaranayake, a Chancellor’s Professor of mathematics and statistics, is a co-principal investigator on the research team.   
Other researchers involved with the project include Dr. William Van Stoecker, a dermatologist with The Dermatology & Aesthetic Center in Rolla, Missouri, and research scientist and CEO of S&A Technologies; Dr. Mirna Becevic, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Missouri School of Medicine and Dr. James Grichnik, professor and chair of dermatology and cutaneous surgery at the University of South Florida. 
For more information about Missouri S&T’s computer engineering programs, visit ece.mst.edu

About Missouri S&T

Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students located in Rolla, Missouri. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System, Missouri S&T offers over 100 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top public universities for salary impact, according to the Wall Street Journal. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit www.mst.edu

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