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UWM Research Foundation
GE Healthcare Catalyst Grant Program
Call for Proposals

Program Background
GE Healthcare Partnership: In 2013, GE Healthcare and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) announced a unique collaboration aimed at building a pipeline of Wisconsin-based medical imaging software developers and researchers to drive the next generation of healthcare technology globally. The partnership includes a commitment of more than $4.1 million toward the GE Healthcare Center for Advanced Computational Imaging at UWM. The joint effort will enable UWM to develop technology-specific, advanced-level course work in specialized software development and to provide seed-funding for research and collaborative projects related to image and signal processing for medical technology. The collaboration will also provide continuing education opportunities for GE Healthcare technologists.  

GE Healthcare Center for Advanced Computational Imaging at UWM: TThe center is being led by Ethan Munson, chair of the UWM Department of Computer Science and Director of the Center. In addition, Jun Zhang acts as Associate Director for Research Projects and helps promote the center’s research agenda. The center focuses on medical imaging technologies in three main thrust areas:
  • Educating GE Workforce – In the fall of 2013, UWM began offering a graduate-level certificate in computational imaging, which is offered alongside professional development curricula for GE Healthcare employees. This effort is being coordinated by Ethan Munson in UWM’s College of Engineering & Applied Science. 
  • Pipeline of New Talent for GE Healthcare and other Companies – The curriculum development will not only benefit current GE employees, but will also offer opportunities to UWM undergraduates and graduate students to focus in areas of significant industry need. More than 85 percent of UWM graduates have historically remained in Wisconsin following graduation.
  • Fostering Imaging Research – Funding for seed projects through the Catalyst Grant Program will focus on specific computational imaging challenges and help to foster research in related technology areas. This will further enhance educational opportunities for students and allow faculty researchers to explore research areas directly relevant to industry.  
Catalyst Program Will Foster Imaging Research: Imaging research projects will be coordinated by the UWM Research Foundation through the Catalyst Grant model. Research projects awarded seed funding will be expected to attract subsequent funding from other sources and become self-sustaining. Grant proposals can originate from engineering as well as a number of disciplines on campus, including math and physics in the College of Letters & Science and the College of Health Sciences.

Previous Catalyst Projects: Summary of 2013, 2014, and 2015 funded projects can be found on the UWMRF website.

Program Outcomes:
The success of the Catalyst Grant Program will create capabilities that benefit not only GE Healthcare, but also a variety of companies that work in related technologies. Outcome measures will include:
  • Industry Employment - Students who participate in projects funded with this program will hopefully go on to be employed at GE Healthcare or other companies that work in these areas.
  • Research and Scholarship - Student-supported thesis publications and publications in peer-reviewed journals will help measure the scholarly impact of the program. 
  • Federal Grant Funding -The program is designed to encourage researchers to work in specific areas and go on to seek additional funding from federal grant agencies; preliminary data from these projects hopefully will help to secure funding from other sources, thereby increasing the impact of the program.
  • Corporate Sponsored Research - Industry partners will have the opportunity to fund additional projects in related areas.
  • Commercialization - While not a primary objective of the program, the ability to commercialize technologies through patents, licenses, and other means will be another measure of the program's success. 

Call for Proposals

Overview:  The UWM Research Foundation is pleased to announce the latest call for proposals in the Catalyst Grant Program. The GE Healthcare Catalyst Grant Program for Computational Imaging Research will award up to $200,000 in the summer of 2016 to support research in areas that include image reconstruction and signal processing, detection technology, image and signal analysis, computer-aided diagnostics, image visualization, and embedded systems. These awards will be made to new and continuing promising research and development projects in the sciences and engineering that will help build computational imaging capabilities at UWM, leverage support from federal funding sources, and lead to new discoveries to improve the art of image processing.     

Award Amounts: The program will typically award grants in the amount of $25,000 to $75,000 in direct project funds in addition to matching funds from other sources. 

Area of Research: TheAll proposals must include a 1:1 match for all requested funds. In general, acceptable matches shall be the same as those for the federal funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, final decisions on what constitutes an acceptable match shall be at the sole and final discretion of the project selection committee (as described in the process below). Typical sources of match may include:.

Matching Fund Requirement: All proposals must include a 1:1 match for all requested funds. In general, acceptable matches shall be the same as those for the federal funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, final decisions on what constitutes an acceptable match shall be at the sole and final discretion of the project selection committee (as described in the process below). Typical sources of match may include:
  • Cash Match - From sources that include the university, other philanthropic donors, and related corporate research support.
  • Federal Grants - Committed federal grant dollars or other extramural grant dollars can be used to demonstrate match for closely complementary research areas.
  • In-Kind Salary Support - In-kind faculty salary support for faculty and students is permitted in keeping with institutional practices.

Faculty researchers with questions about potential matching funds from the university should contact their school or college. 

Background Literature Review:  Abstracts and proposals should contain a literature review.

Computational Imaging Research Areas
May focus on various imaging modalities, including but not limited to:

Computed Tomography Electrical Capacitance Tomography
Electrical Resistance Tomography Laser-Scanning Confocal Microscopy    
Two-Photon Microscopy Near-Infrared Spectroscopy
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Magnetic Induction Tomography Acoustic Tomography
Photo-Acoustic Tomography Ultrasound
Zeeman-Doppler Imaging  

The topic areas look to advance computational imaging in various fields of industry by researching new approaches in image reconstruction, management, segmentation, visualization, and analysis. 

The primary topic areas of interest are:

Topic Area 1:  Image Reconstruction and Signal Processing
Applications are invited that seek the following:
  • Methods to increase image resolution beyond native detector pitch for flat panel or CT detectors (radiography, mammography, vascular, CT)
  • Methods to increase image quality (e.g., reduction image artifacts [specific artifacts of interest])
  • Decrease reconstruction time while maintaining image quality at ROI (specific ROIs, e.g., soft tissue features, hard tissue features). Software advanced architectures and acceleration techniques and/or advanced computer architectures for intensive computation are areas of interest.  
  • Image registration or fusion across modalities (CT-PET, MR-PET, Ultrasound-CT, Ultrasound-MR) and clinical benefits
  • Methods to decrease dose delivered to patient (e.g., radiography, mammography, or vascular)
Other areas of interest:
  • Statistical reconstruction
  • New techniques for image processing for standard RAD images
  • Embedded image processing techniques integrated into detector components

Topic Area 2: Detection Technology

Applications are invited that seek the following:
  • Unique flat panel and CT detector architectures and algorithms for sparsely populated radiation detectors (i.e., non-contiguous pixel arrays)
  • Embedded detector corrections to compensate for various physical detector limitations and material properties such as x-ray scatter, cross-talk, temperature, and spectral responses; corrections applied with limited (n-m, m<5) sampled events in real time
  • Advanced thermal control/handling technologies and materials 
Other areas of interest
  • Coded corrections in FPGAs, DSP, or CPU
  • Energy and material discriminating detector architectures and applications

Topic Area 3: Image and Signal Analysis--Computer Aided Diagnosis

Applications are invited that seek the following:
  • Quantitative tools (e.g., feature classification, image morphology, application-specific measurable features)
  • Object tracking over time, images of the same modality, images of different modality
  • Pattern recognition applied to feature or texture detection
  • Organ identification
  • Disease recognition aids for clinicians
In addition, proposals will be considered in Topic Area 4: Image Visualization; however, researchers are encouraged to emphasize how their work in this area is unique, since there is significant work already ongoing in this area.

Topic Area 4: Image Visualization

Applications are invited that seek the following:
  • Smart Segmentation (auto-detect ROI, adaptive segmentation, machine-learning-based segmentation)
  • Edge-detection techniques
  • Shape modeling
  • Two-dimensional and three-dimensional object visualization techniques
  • Fly-through or navigation techniques through vessels, etc.
Other areas of interest:
  • Mobile applications
  • Thin-client applications
  • Motion detection and removal
Proposals are also invited under the heading for embedded systems in keeping with the broader goals of the Center to cultivate research in this area.

Topic Area 5: Embedded Systems

Reviewers will also consider projects with scientific and commercial merit in areas that include embedded systems especially where relevant to medical imaging systems.

    Application Process

    Based on this Call for Proposals and the information sessions, interested researchers must submit a one-page abstract. Abstracts that meet the qualification criteria—including the topic area—will be invited to submit a full proposal. Full proposals will be judged by external scientific reviewers and decisions on project funding will be made by a selection committee. Details of the process are described below.

    Interested researchers must submit a one-page abstract no later than 5:00 PM on Thursday, 3/24/16. Abstracts should follow the template provided on the upper left side of this webpage. Abstracts should be emailed to the UWM Research Foundation as described in the section “Instructions for Submitting Materials” found below.

    Invited Full Proposals: Abstracts that meet the qualification criteria identified below will be invited to submit a full proposal. Full proposals must be submitted no later than 5:00 PM on 5/5/16. Full proposals must include:
    1. Proposal narrative of up to five pages
    2. Budget
    3. CVs for investigator(s)
    4. Initial literature search and review of intellectual property landscape
    Researchers must complete a WISPER record with their proposal submission. Further instructions will be provided to researchers invited to submit a full proposal.

    Qualification Criteria: Qualifying abstracts must meet the following criteria:
    • Field of Study - Proposed research is in the computation imaging field, as described in this call for proposals.
    • UWM Researchers - The project is for UWM-based research.
    • Funding Period - One year.  Applicants may seek additional funding in future years; however, the scope of this proposal should be for a single year.
    • Amount of Funding - Project funding is anticipated in the range of $25,000 to $75,000 in direct funds (matching dollars for all direct project funds must be identified at the time of full proposal).
    • New and Continuing Projects - Proposals for new and continuing support for projects will be considered; continuing projects should clearly identify the new scope of work and associated milestones.

    Scientific Evaluation Criteria:
    Complete Catalyst proposals will undergo scientific evaluation by external reviewers using criteria established for the UWM Research Growth Initiative (RGI) program. Scientific reviewers will be asked to prioritize all reviewed proposals and rank proposals against national standards (top 10%, next 40%, bottom 50%).
    • Quality - Excellence and novelty of concept, approach, and methodology; clarity and appropriateness of project plans; desirability and impact of potential results on the national and international scholarly community.
    • Return - Return on investment (ROI) through extramural funding, building capabilities in image reconstruction research at UWM, and/or potential for commercialization of the work.
    • Risk - Availability of necessary skills and experience, likelihood of achieving the intended outcomes; probability of securing extramural funding or engaging in commercialization; and potential for self-sustainability after the seed investment phase.

    Programmatic Criteria: Qualifying grants will be reviewed by the Selection Committee based on the programmatic and commercial criteria. In keeping with the program’s goal of fostering economic development, invitations for a full proposal will be made based on the following criteria:
    • Relevance to the Field of Study
    • Appropriateness of Matching Funds
    • Potential for Building Capabilities in Image Reconstruction - Including student engagement, fostering new research directions among UWM investigators, and providing preliminary data to support applications to other funding agencies.
    • Talent Pipeline - Including linkages with other aspects of the GE Healthcare Center for Advanced Computational Imaging at UWM, such as talent and curriculum development.
    • Corporate Partnerships - Potential for corporate partnerships in image reconstruction and potential startup companies.

    Number of Submissions:
      Investigators may submit multiple abstracts.

    Intellectual Property: Intellectual property is not a requirement of this call for proposals; however, researchers are strongly encouraged to contact UWMRF and submit an invention disclosure if aspects of the proposed work are believed to have commercial potential. New invention disclosures should be submitted through the UWMRF Inventor Portal at:

    • 2/15/16:Call for abstracts
    • 3/24/16:Deadline for submission of abstracts - by 5:00 PM
    • 4/4/16:Invitations for full proposals issued
    • 5/5/16: Deadline for full proposals - by 5:00 PM
    • May 2016: Scientific review of full proposals
    • Mid-June 2016: Final selection of full proposals
    • June 2016: Target for notification of awards
    • Award Period: Target beginning 7/1/16
    Instructions for Submitting Materials: Application materials are available on the left side of this webpage.

    Abstracts should be submitted in PDF form to: ge-catalystgrant@uwmfdn.org. This one page Abstract should follow the template available on this website. A project budget, CV and WISPER record are not required at the Abstract stage. Budget instructions are available for guidance, but a complete budget is not required at this stage.

    Confirmation: You will receive a confirmation that your abstract has been received within one business day of submitting your proposal. If you do not receive a confirmation email, please contact the UWM Research Foundation immediately. Questions should be directed to the UWM Research Foundation: Brian Thompson, briant@uwmfdn.org, 414-906-4653


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