Monday, August 10, 2015

URSP Student Christian Koudelka Compares 3D Ultrasound Imaging of Carotid Atherosclerotic Plaque with Clinical Endpoints

One of the most difficult questions I have had to answer this summer when asked by others is “what exactly do I actually do?” My response usually is “well how much time do you have?” The short answer is that I am coding software for medical diagnosis assessing the severity of vascular disease (Atherosclerosis).  The long answer usually gets cut off mid-sentence 15 minutes into the conversation because they no longer follow or care for my rambling. My passion for clinical research is fairly apparent after holding a lengthy conversation with me. That is why I am currently majoring in Bioengineering with a minor in Computer Science with aspirations towards graduate school. Clinical research is unique and invigoration; it is bases for establishing and furthering current medical practices used in hospitals all over the world.

As an undergraduate student getting involved in research is a daunting and exciting experience. I start everyday by sitting in front of my computer, sipping a cup of coffee, just staring at the desktop for at least a good 10 minutes. Unsure of where to begin in writing my code, I set about the task of dissecting the software into multiple parts. It is a process of seemingly never ending dissections until I am left with so many little parts of code that I no longer sure I can put it together. However, that moment when the universally despised error message no longer appears on the computer screen, I get a rush of accomplishment. That once allusive feeling of accomplishment kept me coming back to work especially during the beautiful summer days.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally got a working prototype for software program.  The prototype allows the user to load in ultrasound images of the carotid artery; which the user then marks boundaries of the artery by placing points on the image. The program constructs a 3D volume of the carotid artery with biological measures that will aid physicians in assessing the severity of the disease. Much research is still needed before 3D Ultrasound measurements are established in clinical use. Thus, my plan is to research the precision of this measurement paradigm utilizing my software; possibly throughout my graduate education.