Kathy Nightingale Wins IEEE Hertz Ultrasonics Award

September 20, 2021 | Michaela Kane

Award recognizes significant contributions to the field of ultrasonic imaging

Kathy Nightingale

Kathy Nightingale

Kathy Nightingale, the Theo Pilkington Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, received the IEEE Carl Hellmuth Hertz Ultrasonics Award from the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control Society.

This award celebrates researchers who have made significant contributions to the field of ultrasonics. Nightingale was recognized for her, “pioneering contributions to the field of radiation force imaging and measurements.” Candidates are nominated by their peers, and they must demonstrate an excellent track record of publications, technical reports or patents. The award was named for Carl Hellmuth Hertz to honor his pivotal role as both a researcher and as an advisor to others working in the field of medical diagnostic ultrasound imaging.

Nightingale has been a key figure in Duke BME’s ultrasound group, where she helped pioneer the development of Acoustic Radiation Force Impulse (ARFI) elasticity imaging. This technique uses ultrasound to assess the elasticity of target tissues. Her lab also designed the algorithms and the pulse sequences that form the basis of shear wave imaging techniques, which assess the stiffness of tissues and have been integrated into numerous commercially available ultrasound systems.

Shear wave imaging is primarily used to study liver stiffness, which is helpful for tracking liver fibrosis. In certain countries, these imaging tools have been so successful that they have been able replace invasive and uncomfortable liver biopsy procedures––the current standard for fibrosis staging. Nightingale is now pursuing projects that explore how the imaging modality could be used to guide prostate cancer biopsies and focal therapies. Her lab is also studying how the technology could be expanded to assess skeletal muscle.

"The IEEE Ultrasonics Symposium is the premier technical conference of our field, and I am truly honored to have been selected by this community to receive the Ultrasonics Carl Hellmuth Hertz Award,” says Nightingale. “It would not have been possible without the support and effort of the many people comprising the research team in the Duke Ultrasound group and our wonderful clinical collaborators at Duke Health."

Awardees receive a plaque, certificate and a $1000 honorarium. The award was presented at this year’s virtual IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium on September 12, 2021.