Dr. James Suliburk and Dr. Livia S. Eberlin, associate professors in the Department of Surgery, and Dr. Rongrong Huang, assistant professor of pathology and immunology, have been awarded $1.6 million in funding to validate a mass spectrometry-based test for diagnosis of thyroid fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies. Currently, differentiating benign and malignant thyroid nodules preoperatively from FNA biopsies can be very challenging using cytology alone. Because of this, many patients may require surgery in order to get a final diagnosis which is associated with risk, cost, and complications for the patient.
In 2019, Dr. Eberlin and Dr. Suliburk published on the initial development of a metabolic-based mass spectrometry test which may aid and expedite the preoperative diagnosis of thyroid nodules. Funding form the NIH will be used to validate the analytical and predictive performance of this test following CLIA guidelines in a step towards clinical implementation. These efforts will be led by clinical research associate Dr. Rachel DeHoog, who worked on the development of this test during her PhD studies. Using this new mass spectrometry-based test for diagnosis of thyroid FNA samples, a more accurate diagnosis may be obtained prior to surgery, allowing patients that ultimately receive a benign diagnosis to avoid undergoing an unnecessary surgery and improve overall patient care through improved precision-guided medicine.