2019 Distinguished Investigators2020-10-28T18:24:46-04:00

2019 Distinguished Investigators

Ken Arai, PhDDr. Arai’s research is focused on understanding the pathological mechanisms of cerebral white matter damage, examining the role/function of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs). Using an optical imaging approach, his lab has demonstrated that aging exacerbates white matter damage after cerebral hypoperfusion, via suppressing oligodendrocyte regeneration. In addition, Dr. Arai’s lab has shown that OPCs are in close proximity to cerebral endothelial cells, and pericyte-OPC interaction in the peri-vascular region regulates white matter homeostasis. These findings may provide a proof-of-concept that OPCs can be targeted therapeutically for white-matter-related cerebrovascular diseases.
Kevin Bennett, PhDDr. Bennett is an accomplished biophysicist and engineer who has made fundamental contributions to imaging science, including discoveries and applications in magnetic resonance imaging and nanotechnology for medical imaging. Among his achievements are new clinical tools to detect brain tumor invasion based on non-Gaussian diffusion MRI, magnetic biomaterials that report on their own structure after implantation, and the first noninvasive technique to detect early changes in kidney structure and function in transplant organs and in patients with chronic kidney disease.
Francis Blankenberg, MDDr. Blankenberg’s group was the first to image the selective expression of phosphatidylserine during apoptosis in vivo. They found that annexin V was able to detect and quantify apoptosis in a variety of models including acute lung transplant rejection. They developed HYNIC-annexin V used in multiple independent clinical imaging trials. With the discovery of phosphatidylserine as a major immune checkpoint inhibitor, Dr. Blankenberg’s team is now using continuous infusions of annexin V to attack solid tumors and intracellular pathogens.
Colin Derdeyn, MDDr. Derdeyn has made significant contributions to the medical imaging community, a few of which include; methods of measurement of cerebral hemodynamics; the role of cerebral hemodynamics in stroke risk; and the treatment of intracranial atherosclerotic disease. In the first domain, Dr. Derdeyn helped refine methods of measurement of oxygen extraction fraction and quantitative blood flow and oxygen extraction measurements with PET and MR. In the second domain, these tools were applied in prospective studies of stroke risk in arterial occlusive diseases. The final domain largely relates to Dr. Derdeyn’s involvement in the SAMMPRIS trial for intracranial atherosclerotic disease.
Richard Duszak, MDDr. Duszak is a top health services researcher, focusing on health policy as pertains to medical imaging access, utilization, payment systems and practice management. He has 300+ publications and his research has been collaborative and often involves trainees.
John DEisenbreyDr. Eisenbrey’s focuses on ultrasound research, including contrast-enhanced ultrasound, imaging based therapy, interventional oncology, and photoacoustic imaging. His recent work has focused on the therapeutic role of ultrasound-sensitive microbubbles in radiation therapy. As part of two NIH funded research grants, his team has developed ultrasound-sensitive oxygen microbubbles and was the first to show their effectiveness as radiosensitizers in vivo. In addition, his lab has demonstrated the efficacy of using microbubble cavitation to sensitize hepatocellular carcinoma to radiotherapy. This principle is currently being investigated in a first in humans therapeutic clinical trial.
Fiona Fennessy, MD BCh, PhDDr. Fennessy has made significant contributions to the field of prostate multiparametric MRI by optimizing approaches for dynamic contrast enhanced MR imaging (DCE MRI) assessment of prostate cancer (e.g. determining the optimal approach for prescribing Arterial Input Function in DCE MRI analysis, as outlined in. She has evaluated how repeatable prostate diffusion-weighted imaging is, by rescanning treatment-naive patients within a 2-week interval, an absolute necessity prior to the use of prostate MR as a biomarker. She has also correlated multiparametric MRI with detailed whole-mount pathology and found that prostate tumor cell density correlates with MR diffusion parameters.
Katherine FerraraDr. Ferrara’s contributions span the fields of ultrasound imaging and therapy and the field of image-guided delivery, including more than 290 papers that have been cited more than 17,000 times. She published the first journal papers on the medical use of ultrasound radiation forces and use of pulse inversion in contrast agent imaging. She developed early molecularly-targeted ultrasound contrast agents. She has developed strategies for image labeling for positron emission tomography, synthesizing and evaluating new therapeutics and nanoparticles, and creating methods for enhancing therapeutic delivery.
Joel GarbowDr. Garbow’s team probes radiation-induced changes to the brain microenvironment and consequences therein for tumor growth and immunotherapy. They showed that single-hemispheric Gamma Knife irradiation of mouse brain produces a microenvironment leading to late time­to-onset radiation necrosis (RN) that recapitulates all the salient histologic features of human RN, aggressive, virulent glioma cell growth mimicking that of recurrent glioma in the clinic, and immunotherapy failure in normally immunoresponsive glioma. They are also developing MRI tools to quantitatively measure perfusion, oxygen transport, and metabolism in rodent placenta.
Yulin Ge, MDDr. Ge has a broad background in clinical neuroimaging research, with specific expertise in the development of advanced MRI techniques for neurological disease. His research has focused on using quantitative MRI to elucidate underlying pathology for conditions including multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, and age-related biophysiological processes. His studies using structural, perfusion, and metabolic MRI at either 3T or 7T have shown great potential in detecting subtle pathological changes. He has served as PI or senior author for well-cited studies in these areas, and he is currently #3 nationwide in the Blue Ridge ranking of all top-funded Radiology investigators.
Daniel Gochberg, PhDDr. Gochberg’s focus is NMR relaxation mechanisms in tissues which provide the basis for contrast in MRI. He has performed fundamental studies on the origins of magnetization transfer (MT) and related phenomena and has developed new methods for deriving quantitative tissue characteristics from MT measurements. He has extended those contributions to chemical exchange imaging (e.g. CEST) and has invented new and improved methods for using exchange imaging to probe tissue pathologies in muscle and tumors.
Jan Grimm, MD, PhDDr. Grimm’s lab is currently running their 2d clinical trial with a novel Cerenkov imaging system, using a world-wide unique clinical CLI suite. The lab is also obtaining a spectral analysis of the Cerenkov signal from the patients which allows for a depth estimate of the source of the signal. They’ve published extensively on Cerenkov imaging and have developed Cerenkov activatable imaging agents. More recently, the lab is exploring agents that are directly activated through Cerenkov. In this work, they are also exploring interactions of radiotracers with nanoparticles. Preclinically, they are further exploring Cerenkov-activatable agents for therapy and imaging.
Rajiv Gupta, MD, PhD,Dr. Gupta has done pioneering work in Dual Energy CT (DECT), phase-phase contrast CT, and making CT available in resource constrained environments. For example, his team was first to show that it was possible to differentiate hemorrhage from iodinated contrast, differentiate calcification from hemorrhage, and to identify key features of acute intra-cranial hemorrhage that predict expansion with high sensitivity and specificity on DECT scans of the head.
Matti Hamalainen, PhDDr. Matti Hamalainen develops instruments, methods, and software for functional imaging of the human brain. His particular area of expertise is magnetoencephalography (MEG). Since 1981 he has contributed significantly to all aspects of MEG, including design and construction of instruments, actual neurophysiological studies, and, in particular, development of analytical methods, and tools. From the perspective of technology development and data analysis, he has been one the most influential scientists working in the field of MEG worldwide. His research has paved the way for MEG becoming an important basic research and clinical tool worldwide.
Hao Huang, PhDDr. Huang has made distinguished and innovative scientific and technical contributions to structural, functional and physiological MRI over the last 20 years. He is an internationally recognized pioneer in imaging brain development and aging, known best for imaging early structural and functional brain development. He is on the Editorial Board of the journal NeuroImage. He is a successful mentor (trainees include a school dean) and a willing servant to many international granting agencies (including NIH).
Peder Larson, PhDProfessor Larson has pioneered development of MRI techniques for generating new types of contrast. He developed pulse sequences and reconstructions for metabolic MRI with hyperpolarized carbon-13 agents, including designing the most widely used human imaging methods for this modality. He has made major contributions to semi-solid tissue imaging using MRI methods, where his methods have demonstrated unprecedented MRI contrast in studies of bone, myelin, and the lung. His group has also developed techniques to improve imaging accuracy for simultaneous PET/MRI systems, pioneering the use of deep learning to determine the PET attenuation coefficients using MRI data.
Robert Mach, PhDDr. Mach has worked in the field of PET over 30 years. His research has focused on several topics, including dopamine receptor function, imaging mechanisms of cell death (caspase-3 and PARP-1), oxidative stress (superoxide and iNOS), and cell proliferation. Five different radiotracers developed in his lab have been translated from preclinical to clinical imaging studies. In addition to his research in PET, Dr. Mach has conducted seminal research on the molecular characterization of the sigma-2 receptor/TMEM97, a protein that is believed to play a key role in cell proliferation and in the pathobiology of Alzheimer’s disease.
Tarik MassoudDr Massoud’s focus is endovascular treatment of brain aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). He created the only widely used animal model for AVMs. His current lab research uses novel molecular imaging theranostic approaches against brain cancer. He studies protein-protein interaction imaging, having developed the first PET split reporter molecular imaging system for potential clinical translation. He created a novel molecular biosensor to image p53 protein folding in cancer; and novel theranostic nanotechnology strategies to deliver therapeutic microRNAs to glioblastomas.
Cynthia McColloughDr. McCollough’s profound contributions include; seminal research on the quantification, management and reduction of CT radiation dose; tireless education work; original scientific contributions and a leadership role in quantitative CT image quality assessment and standardization; pioneering research in cardiac CT imaging and cardiac dose reduction; first quantification of the effects of CT on implanted cardiac devices; and groundbreaking work using novel multi-energy CT imaging technologies, including photon-counting-detector-based spectral CT, and translation of dual-energy and spectral CT into clinical practice.
Yubin Miao, PhDDr. Miao’s research focuses on developing novel peptides that target malignant cells. His most significant scientific contributions involve theranostic approaches for malignant melanoma. His research team has developed a novel class of lactam-cyclized alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) peptides to target melanocortin-1 receptors (MC1Rs) for melanoma imaging and therapy. A recent publication in Science Translational Medicine was a first-in-man demonstration of MC1R as a molecular target for melanoma imaging. Dr. Miao’s novel technology has been funded by NIH and has been awarded three US patents.

Robert Miyaoka, PhDDr Miyaoka’s primary research has been the design and development of high resolution PET detectors. He designed the micro crystal element (MiCE) detector, the first detector PET detector module that decoded crystals with cross-sections as small as 0.8×0.8 mm. The MiCE detector module also pioneered the use of mirror film material as an optical reflector for high resolution PET detector designs. He led the development of PET detectors with three dimensional position capability. He has also developed continuous miniature crystal element (cMiCE) detectors and built several functioning prototype imaging systems able to achieve <1 mm image resolution.

Vitaly Napadow, PhDDr. Napadow’s research is aimed at elucidating the neural mechanisms underlying chronic pain and promising non-pharmacological therapies. A seminal publication detailed a candidate functional connectivity biomarker associated with spontaneous clinical pain. This biomarker was corroborated by his group and others, while a recent study applied machine learning to predict clinical pain intensity in low back pain patients. Dr. Napadow’s studies were also the first to apply fMRI to assess neuroplasticity in carpal tunnel syndrome, linking brain and peripheral nerve pathophysiology for neuropathic pain.
Pari Vijay PandharipandeDr. Pandharipande is an abdominal radiologist at MGH and Director of the MGH Institute for Technology Assessment. Her research is centered in imaging, mathematical modeling, and health outcomes, and seeks to quantify the benefits and risks of imaging in populations. Three projects illustrate this goal. First, using modeling techniques, she exposed a critical pitfall in how physicians conceptualize cancer risks from CT. Second, she conducted a prospective, multicenter study to evaluate the role of CT in primary care. Third, she developed an innovative model of pancreatic cancer to evaluate MRI screening, the focus of her current work.
Dennis ParkerDr. Parker performed the first experiments to demonstrate that MRI could be used to obtain images showing temperature change. He worked to develop a large group performing research in MRI guided focused ultrasound therapy. He mentored Dr. Allison Payne, who has become the lead scientist on developing the MRI guided focused ultrasound system for treating cancer in the breast, which now has clinical trials in Bordeaux, France. He has led his students and staff in developing several novel MR angiography methods, beginning with “MOTSA” and several since.
Savannah PartridgeDr. Partridge’s focus is the development and clinical validation of diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI) techniques for breast imaging. Her work includes MRI sequence optimization for improved acquisitions, advanced acquisition and post-processing software approaches, and clinical implementation. She has shown that apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) measures by DWI distinguish between benign and malignant breast lesions and can improve diagnostic accuracy of conventional DCE MRI by reducing false positives. Her team is in the process of formalizing recommendations for clinical interpretation through two multi-site trials that she leads as PI.
Wellington Pham. PhDDr. Pham is an internationally-recognized expert in molecular imaging and the design and applications of novel agents for optical, MRI and radionuclear imaging. He has made key contributions in the design of molecular probes for theranostic applications. He has pioneered the use of nanotechnology in cancer imaging and some of his developments have been taken up commercially. More recently he has been recognized for the development of novel agents for the imaging an potential treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. He has made major contributions to multimodal imaging, combining the use of optical and MR contrast agents to understand fundamental biological processes and the pathophysiology of diseases.
Thomas Reiner, PhDWhen Dr. Reiner joined MSK in 2012, he immediately started building his research program, which is firmly rooted in the development of novel chemical structures for imaging and radiotherapy. He aggressively pursues translational clinical projects, yielding two first-in-human trials to date. PARPi-FL is a fluorescent intraoperative imaging agent, which was approved for a Phase I/II clinical trial in March 2017. [18F]PARPi is a quantitative PET imaging agent which started enrolling patients in a phase I study in January. He also had significant success developing nanoparticles for predicting treatment success.
Mark Rosen, MD, PhD,Dr. Rosen’s research career has been largely devoted to developing methods and translational applications in DCE-MRI for evaluating the effects of anti-vascular therapies on tumors. This includes the first publication to demonstrate the quantitative anti-angiogenic effects of sorafenib on renal cell cancer. He has also led efforts for computational methods to develop tumor phenotyping in breast and prostate cancer. Based on his extensive experience in multi-site clinical trials using imaging endpoints, Dr. Rosen has been a group leader in the NCI efforts for standardization of imaging quality in clinical trials.
Peter ScottDr. Scott’s laboratory is involved in all aspects of positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, including discovery of new methods for synthesizing PET radiotracers [1,2] and development of new radiotracers for PET imaging of neurological disorders. He is most well-known for his NIH funded (R01) work developing copper-mediated labeling methods using fluorine-18. In only a few years, Scott has changed the PET landscape by enabling access to new, previously inaccessible, radiotracers. These methods have been highly cited, are being used all over the world and have been approved by FDA for use in clinical trials.
Dinggang ShenDr. Shen’s research focuses on the development of novel image analysis tools for early detection of brain disorders, as well as image-guided prostate/lung cancer therapy and CBCT-based dental surgery, and has made major impacts on several areas of neurological /
psychiatric disorders including being one of the world’s leading experts on the development of automated image processing methods for accurate quantification of subtle and complex structural/functional changes in the brain. Dr. Shen has also made a major contribution to the development of novel image analysis tools to gain insights into early brain development.
Stephen SolomonDr. Solomon’s focus is image-guided interventions and specifically tumor ablation. He translated pre-clinical development of an electromagnetic position sensor to clinical use, and it’s used worldwide in bronchoscopic and cardiovascular applications. He and colleagues demonstrated the first application of in-room PET navigation to guide ablation tool placement and in-room ablation zone assessment for post-ablation viability. His team has demonstrated the clinical value of image-guided ablation – for example, patients with successful colorectal lung ablation could alter their care, coming off chemotherapy for a “chemo holiday.”
Zhen Jane Wang, MDDr. Wang’s focus is kidney imaging using an emerging molecular imaging technology, hyperpolarized 13C MRI, with the over-arching goal of developing biomarkers to improve diagnoses and guide treatment. Her work in diffuse kidney disease has demonstrated novel metabolic imaging strategies to enable early detection of nephropathy. Her work in kidney cancer has developed imaging biomarkers that inform on real-time tumor metabolism and microenvironment associated with tumor aggressiveness. This work has provided the foundation for ongoing clinical translation of the technology to risk stratify kidney tumors in order to guide patient management.
Simon WarfieldDr. Warfield has pioneered the development of accurate and robust magnetic resonance imaging segmentations algorithms suitable for the assessment of pediatric MRI. These techniques have been particularly effective for a range of anatomy and MRI acquisitions. Dr. Warfield has created an algorithm for the validation of image segmentation in the absence of a reference standard. The paper was recognized by Thomson/ISi as being in the top I% most cited papers in the field, and was identified as a ‘fast breaking paper’. It has found widespread application across several imaging fields, and has been adopted by local and national research studies.
Ona WuDr. Wu’s scientific contributions are very diverse and clinically impactful. She was a pioneer in 2001 with using machine learning and acute MRI data to predict future tissue infarction after stroke back. She designed and executed the first prospective study demonstrating that MRI can be used to safely select patients with unwitnessed stroke onset for intravenous thrombolysis with alteplase up to 24 hours from last known well. Her work in comatose patients revealed that functional EEG and functional MRI can used to detect covert consciousness in patients presenting with poor neurologic exams.
Dmitriy YablonskiyDr. Yablonskiy develops biophysical models of biological tissue rnicrostructure and functioning as a foundation for designing new quantitative MRI-based methods for in vivo studying humans in health and disease. His lab developed the in vivo Lung Morphometry with hyperpolarized 3He MRI, the Gradient Echo Plural Contrast Imaging (GEPCI) and its advanced version the quantitative Gradient Recalled Echo (qGRE). Recent work is focused on applying qGRE to link brain genetic and cellular microstructure with brain functioning in applications to MS and Alzheimer diseases. Dr. Yablonskiy has authored and co-authored more than 200 papers in peer-review journals and 4 patents.
Hiroyuki YoshidaDr. Yoshida is an imaging scientist whose research efforts substantially contributed to computer-aided diagnosis and quantitative AI imaging of colorectal cancers in CT colonography (CTC). He pioneered the computer-aided detection (CADe) of polyps in CTC, which later became a fundamental approach in this area. Subsequently, he laid out the groundwork for electronic cleansing (EC) for laxative-free CTC, cloud-computing CADe and EC, and deep-learning CADe and EC schemes, and leveraged them to successfully conduct large multi-center clinical trials (the largest with 1,257 patients from 14 institutions) to demonstrate the clinical benefit of the computer-assisted CTC.
Paul Yushkevich, PhDDr. Yushkevich has contributed to many areas of computational image analysis. His recent work focuses on using imaging to characterize brain regions associated with early Alzheimer’s disease pathology in unprecedented three-dimensional detail. This research includes using ex vivo MRI and histologic imaging to characterize anatomic variability in the human hippocampus and describe regional effects of disease, along with development of in vivo biomarkers of neurodegeneration based on high-resolution in vivo MRI. He has also developed numerous morphometry and segmentation algorithms and software, including the tool ITK-SNAP, which has tens of thousands of users worldwide.