Christopher Filson and Akanksha Mehta Awarded Prestigious Grants

April 2018

Christopher Filson, MD, MS, and Akanksha Mehta, MD, MS, both assistant professors of urology of the Emory University School of Medicine, were recently awarded prestigious grants for their research proposals. Dr. Filson's grant was awarded by the American Cancer Society for his research on optimal use of MRI-guided prostate biopsy for prostate cancer detection, and Dr. Mehta received her grant from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine to support her investigation of barriers and facilitators of optimal care for male factor infertility. Dr. Filson and Dr. Mehta are co-directors of the Health Services Research Core of the Clinical Research Unit in the Emory Department of Urology.

Funding from Dr. Filson's award will support his study, "MRI-guided Prostate Biopsy: Maximizing Value and Optimizing Utilization." To accomplish this work, Dr. Filson will be mentored by Martin Sanda, MD, Professor and Chair of the Emory Department of Urology, and David Howard, PhD, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health. He will also be collaborating with other researchers at Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Weill-Cornell School of Medicine.

The study focuses on a new way to detect prostate cancer: the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided prostate biopsy. Traditionally, men at-risk for prostate cancer underwent a "blind" biopsy with ultrasound based on a sampling pattern that did not target abnormal areas. For years, prostate cancer remained the only solid type of cancer that was detected in this manner. More recently, studies at centers of excellence showed that using an MRI to guide and target abnormal areas in the prostate with biopsies improved the detection of prostate cancers that may need treatment.

Though this technique was adopted early on at certain hospitals, broad patterns of adoption of this novel biopsy technique remain unexplored. Furthermore, performance of these biopsies requires considerable expertise, and it is unknown whether early results seen in clinical trials are being matched more widely. Finally, use of MRI can be costly, and the true value of MRI-guided biopsies is not known for different groups of patients. Over the four-year span of this grant, Dr. Filson hopes to explore all of these unanswered subjects.

Dr. Mehta's grant will support her investigation, "Barriers and Facilitators of Optimal Care for Male Factor Infertility." The proposed work will apply both qualitative and quantitative research methods to identify barriers in the access and delivery of care for male factor infertility from the dual perspective of patients and physicians.

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