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Creating 3D Digital Pathology to Advance Cancer Research, Diagnostic Practices

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STONY BROOK, NY, September 23, 2019 – Fusheng Wang, PhD, Associate Professor in the Departments of Biomedical Informatics and Computer Science at Stony Brook University and colleagues nationally have received a $1.14 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to research 3D computational pathology. The purpose of the research is to work toward revolutionizing digital pathology from 2D to 3D imagery, which would improve the efficiency and accuracy of clinical diagnosis, particularly in the context of cancer.

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Fusheng Wang will advance 3D digital pathology with support from the National Cancer Institute. The background image shows that 2D digital pathology images on serial sections taken from a tissue block can be registered and reconstructed in 3D.

“Right now there are severe limitations on cancer research from tissue data due to diversity in tumor tissue types, biased information from 2D tissue sections, spatially distorted biomarkers, and static imaging of tumor environment characteristics,” says Wang, Principal Investigator of the study. “3D digital pathology provides for more accurate imaging of tissues that captures the structure of the tissues and the biomarkers for static and dynamic environments. This type of imaging will make it more efficient to understand tumor development progression and the environment of the tumors.”

The project involves the combination of computer vision, GIS, big data technologies and the latest in artificial intelligence to create the 3D imaging resource for new digital pathology. Wang further explains that experimentation will lead first to a small framework of images to lay a foundation for larger pathology imaging data. This process will make for more accessible and efficient testing and discovery of spatial interactions of 3D pathology and biomarkers in cancer research and targeted therapy development.

Collaborators on the research include Dr. Jun Kong (MPI) from Georgia State University and scientists from Emory University and Northwestern University. Stony Brook will receive approximately $480,000 to conduct research for the 3D spatial analytics project, and the application to breast cancer research led by Patricia Thompson-Carino, PhD, in the Renaissance School of Medicine. For more details about the project, see this NIH webpage.


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Stony Brook University, widely regarded as a SUNY flagship, is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with over 26,000 students, more than 2,700 faculty members and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S.News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 40 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University fuels Long island’s economic growth. Its impact on the Long island economy amounts to $7.38 billion in increased output. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.


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