Project title: Digital image analysis in NETs

Michelle Kang Kim, MD, PhD Cleveland Clinic

Michelle Kang Kim, MD, PhD
  • Status: Completed
  • Year(s): 2020
  • Grant Type: Pilot
  • Research Type: Translational
  • Primary Tumor Site: Multiple
  • Area of Inquiry: Molecular Therapeutics, Biomarkers
  • Article/Video: Click Here
  • Also seen in November 2021 eUpdate


Kim is using stage and tumor grade data, and innovative digital image analyses to evaluate how morphometric feature analysis may improve clinicians’ ability to predict the outcomes of patients with gastroenteropancreatic NETs.

What question will you try to answer through your research?

My collaborators and I will develop a diagnostic tool to help predict outcomes in patients with NETs. We believe that specific features such as tissue architecture, tumor cell distribution, and composition will add valuable prognostic information beyond the standard tumor stage and grade.

Why is this important?

NETs are diverse cancers with varying clinical courses. The lack of predictive biomarkers limits physicians’ abilities to predict patient outcomes. Additional tools to identify prognostic and predictive characteristics are therefore critical.  

What will you do as part of this research project?

My team will identify patients with metastatic midgut and pancreas NETs from the Mount Sinai NETregistry, and pathology and tissue banks. We will then use digital image analyses to look at detailed features. We will use a machine learning technique called support vector regression to look for a link between these features and NET outcomes. We will create a model that integrates the best, most predictive features and then test the final model to ensure it helps to predict outcomes in patients with NETs. 

How might your research improve the treatment of NETs?

The results from our study can quickly benefit patients by helping physicians classify and stage their patients’ cancer into groups beyond existing biomarkers. The ability to select patients for specific therapies has broad implications, including better outcomes and potential treatments with lower toxicities.

What is your next step?

When we are finished with this study my colleagues and I will validate our findings and expand our analyses to include patients at other cancer centers.

Additional Details

  • City: Cleveland
  • State: Ohio
  • Country: United States
  • Grant Duration: 1 year
  • Awards: Pilot


NETRF funds laboratory research to understand the development of neuroendocrine tumors and translational research to explore new concepts in treatment. Research grant descriptions and research updates from NETRF are not intended to serve as medical advice. It can take years for research discoveries to be fully validated and approved for patient care. Always consult your health care providers about your treatment options.

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