Current Research and Scholarly Interests
My research interests are in the field of medical imaging, particularly magnetic resonance imaging and in vivo spectroscopy. While magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been advancing at a rapid pace during the past decade, and provides excellent contrast between organs and lesions and exquisite anatomical detail, the promise that in vivo MR spectroscopy holds for revealing functional and physiological information will likely be realized in the decade to come. Many exciting correlations have been obtained between various MR spectroscopic components (e.g., metabolites such as lactate and choline) and disease diagnosis and treatment. However, until these can be robustly presented with high spatial resolution, high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and reasonable imaging times, they will remain primarily in the laboratory. Thus, current research in our laboratory has focussed on an array of novel techniques for producing clinically valuable images of these important metabolic components. These approaches, which include improved spectroscopic imaging and shimming methods as well as the application of estimation theory for optimal data quantification, address the inherent difficulties of low concentrations of the desired components, overlapping resonances, and field inhomogeneities caused by imperfect magnets and magnetic susceptibility variations with the body. Applications of this work include cancer diagnosis, treatment monitoring, and prediction of response to therapy. In addition, we are conducting basic research into a variety of neurologic conditions including brain development in pediatric patients and neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer's disease, alcoholism, and aging.
These research activities are in collaboration with faculty and staff in various departments of the Medical School and in the School of Engineering, and I advise graduate students in various degree programs including Biophysics, Bioengineering, Electrical Engineering, and Medical Informatics.