Jason Jorgensen at White Coat Ceremony
Second-year medical student Jason Jorgensen at White Coat ceremony

Second-Year Medical Student Awarded Grant to Further Scholarly Project Studying Pectus Excavatum

Teresa Joseph
Teresa Joseph
Jason Jorgensen at White Coat Ceremony
Second-year medical student Jason Jorgensen at White Coat ceremony

Jason Raymond Jorgensen Jason Raymond Jorgensen, a second-year medical student at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, is hoping to improve detection of physiological limitations in patients with pectus excavatum, a condition where an individual’s breastbone is sunken into his or her chest. By improving detection, Jorgensen hopes that this will lead to proper support and treatment options.

Jorgensen is working on this research as part of his scholarly project with his mentor, Arash Sabati, MD, a clinical assistant professor in the Division of Cardiology. Jorgensen is one of three medical students who received a grant from the Valley Research Partnership (VRP) to further his research. The VRP, which is in its fifth round of funding, provided $244,230 in grants to help accelerate career development and discovery and improve health care.

Jorgensen discussed his latest research.

Describe Your Research

This project aims to determine if a 3D model of the patient's chest, generated from CT or MRI imaging, will be a better indicator of physiological limitations in patients with pectus excavatum than current techniques allow. Pectus excavatum is a deformity of the chest wall, which causes the chest bone to sink inward leading to possible compression of the heart or lungs. This deformity was thought to be cosmetic, but moderate to severe cases can also cause physiological limitations of the cardiopulmonary system. Pectus excavatum severity is currently scored using a 2D index called the Haller Index, which is a ratio between the horizontal length of the chest and the shortest distance between the vertebrae and sternum. Subsequently, there are multiple other 2D measures to quantify or describe severity. None of these ratios can accurately predict the physiological limitations a patient may experience, which is where the idea for this project came from.

Why Did You Want to Study This?

I am interested in the field of 3D modeling when it comes to patient care. Current technology allows precise 3D models to be created from CT or MRI scans that can assist physicians in a multitude of health care settings. Physicians can create 3D models that are easy for patients to understand, and surgeons can create and manipulate models to assist in preparing for surgical operations. I believe that this technology can help provide better patient care and patient outcomes if utilized properly.

Why is This Research so Important?

Pectus excavatum is the most common chest wall deformity in children, so this research is focused on a condition that is commonplace worldwide. Since this was thought of as a cosmetic lesion, we are learning more every day about pectus excavatum and its physiological impact on patients. There is a knowledge gap as multiple 2D measures have failed and this is where we hope to make impact using 3D modeling.

What Progress Have You Made with Your Research?

The progress on my research has been proceeding at a good pace. I have trained on the engineering software necessary to create the 3D computer models, and have access to the IRB approved data-set through Phoenix Children's Hospital. I have also identified the CT or MRI scans that will be used for the research project, and am currently working on generating the 3D computer models.

How Has Your Experience Been with Your Mentor, Dr. Sabati?

Dr. Sabati has been a great mentor throughout this entire project. He has taken the time, every step of the project, to ensure I understand what we are doing for the research project and why we are doing it. Even during the current pandemic when he is extremely busy with clinic work, he makes sure that I am progressing through the project and providing assistance in any way he can.

How Does the VRP Grant Help Your Research?

This grant will allow the purchase of a program called 3-matic, which helps measure displacement within the 3D computer reconstruction from CT or MRI scans. More specifically, it will take a point cloud (a set of data points in space) of the computer reconstruction of the anatomy (from the CT or MRI) to find the displacement present as a result of the chest wall abnormality from the pectus excavatum.

About the College

Founded in 2007, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. By cultivating collaborative research locally and globally, the college accelerates discovery in a number of critical areas — including cancer, stroke, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular disease. Championed as a student-centric campus, the college has graduated more than 800 physicians, all of whom received exceptional training from nine clinical partners and more than 2,700 diverse faculty members. As the anchor to the Phoenix Bioscience Core, which is projected to have an economic impact of $3.1 billion by 2025, the college prides itself on engaging with the community, fostering education, inclusion, access and advocacy.