Public Release: 

Researcher looks to technology to improve the care of patients with pancreatic cysts

American Gastroenterological Association

Bethesda, MD (Oct. 23, 2014) -- The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Research Foundation is pleased to announce that Richard S. Kwon, MD, MS, from the University of Michigan, is the recipient of the inaugural AGA-Covidien Research & Development Pilot Award in Technology. This award is supported by a generous grant from Covidien, a leading global provider of health-care products.

With this grant, Dr. Kwon will advance our understanding of how technology can be used to improve the care of patients with pancreatic cysts. Using analytic morphomics, an image processing and analysis method, Dr. Kwon will address the most basic challenge when confronted with these cysts -- how to distinguish mucinous cysts, which need surveillance or surgery since they can become cancerous, from non-mucinous cysts, which do not require any follow up. The inability to accurately distinguish the cyst types has led to a significant amount of unnecessary surgeries and surveillance. This novel approach will allow Dr. Kwon and his team to extract quantifiable data from CT scans to characterize shape and contour that is both objective and reproducible.

"Dr. Kwon's research offers an innovative and novel application of cross-sectional imaging as a diagnostic tool for pancreatic cysts," said Martin Brotman, MD, AGAF, chair, AGA Research Foundation. "This research holds great promise to push the field forward by improving our ability to address the most basic challenge and glaring need in the care of patients with these cysts."

The funding provided by this award will provide Dr. Kwon with critical resources and the protected time necessary to complete this project. Results from this pilot study will lead to further multi-center investigations defining the most accurate and cost-effective means to diagnose and manage pancreatic cysts.

"We are thrilled to recognize the first recipient of the AGA-Covidien Research & Development Pilot Award in Technology," said Vafa Jamali, Vice President and General Manager, Covidien, GI Solutions. "Dr. Kwon's impressive research project showcases the important role of technology in improving our diagnostic and treatment capabilities, which is critical to improving patient outcomes."

AGA announced its extended partnership with Covidien in November 2013. In addition to funding this award, Covidien's grant provides ongoing support to AGA's central initiatives in technology and research, including the AGA Center for GI Innovation and Technology, the annual AGA Technology Summit, and the AGA Research Foundation Corporate Roundtable.


About the AGA Institute

The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to include more than 16,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization.

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About the AGA Research Foundation

The AGA Research Foundation, formerly known as the Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition, is the cornerstone of AGA's effort to expand digestive disease research funding. Since 1984, the AGA, through its foundations, has provided more than $40 million in research grants to more than 770 scientists. The AGA Research Foundation serves as a bridge to the future of research in gastroenterology and hepatology by providing critical funding to advance the careers of young researchers between the end of training and the establishment of credentials that earn National Institutes of Health grants. Learn more about the AGA Research Foundation or make a contribution at

About Covidien

Covidien is a global health care leader that understands the challenges faced by providers and their patients and works to address them with innovative medical technology solutions and patient care products. Inspired by patients and caregivers, Covidien's team of dedicated professionals is privileged to help save and improve lives around the world. With more than 38,000 employees, Covidien operates in 150-plus countries and had 2013 revenue of $10.2 billion. To learn more about our business visit or connect with us on Twitter.

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