Research

When the first Chairman M. Paul Capp, MD, arrived on August 1, 1970, to develop the Department of Radiology at the new medical school, he came because the University of Arizona was a designated research university. His belief was that research played a critical role in the development of a strong radiology department and that belief has served as a guiding principal for the Research Division until today. Consequently, he recruited basic scientists very early including Sol Nudelman, PhD, Hans Roehrig, PhD, Harry Barrett, PhD and William Dallas, PhD. With Terry Ovitt, MD, who came in 1975, the department developed the idea of creating a non-film digital radiology department. The rest is history as we became one of the leading departments in the world in developing the digital radiology department.

Today, under the guidance of the Chairman Diego Martin, MD, PhD, FRCPC, the Radiology Division continues to grow. Dr. Martin has infused a philosophy of clinical, academic, research innovation and outreach excellence with a dedicated focus on the translational/clinical imaging research enterprise in Medical Imaging. Our goal is to achieve bench-to-bedside applied imaging science by retaining and expanding our faculty of talented medical imaging scientists and clinical scientists with an infrastructure designed to optimize results and translational initiatives across basic science and clinical disciplines.

Imaging is one of the fastest growing areas of biomedical research and it represents a major research enterprise at the University of Arizona, spanning many laboratories, departments and colleges. Our Research Division is at the forefront of technical and clinical developments in the areas of MRI, Optical Imaging, SPECT & PET, Image Perception, Image Processing, Ultrasound, and Image Quality Assessment. The Research Division plays a critical role in advancing the fields of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological, musculoskeletal, cross-sectional and non-invasive biomarker imaging technology, with the ultimate goal of translating basic science innovations and developments into clinical applications that impact patient care. Research is one of the recognized core strengths of our department, guided by the vision of integrating physical science and technology development with the clinical mission of the department and university, pushing the frontiers of medical imaging technology.

The Research Division encompasses the Center for Gamma-Ray Imaging (CGRI) under the direction of Drs. Harrison Barrett and Lars Furenlid with faculty members Drs. Brad Barber, Luca Caucci, Eric Clarkson, and Jim Woolfenden; a strong program in image interpretation science and human factors under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth Krupinski; and a wide-ranging program in MRI involving Drs. Art Gmitro, Maria Altbach, Ted Trouard, Jean-Philippe Galons and Ali Bilgin. An innovative program in ultrasound, photoacoustic imaging and acoustoelectric imaging has been established by Dr. Russell Witte. Drs. Terry Matsunaga and Evan Unger focus attention on the use of ultrasound-mediated bubble cavitation for dispersing clots, microbubble and ultrasound-mediated gene delivery, microbubble and ultrasound-mediated blood-brain barrier opening and delivery of drugs, and microbubble-based pro- bubbles for extravascular imaging, drug and gene delivery, and tumor cell ablation. Optical research has expanded to include work by Dr. Gmitro and Dr. Andrew Rouse on intravital microscopy; outstanding programs in optical coherence tomography and optical spectroscopy under Drs. Jennifer Barton and Urs Utzinger of Biomedical Engineering; and innovative projects in diffuse optical tomography under Dr. Matthew Kupinski of the College of Optical Sciences. Research on new molecular imaging agents for MRI, nuclear medicine and optical imaging is being conducted by Drs. Mark Pagel, Zhonglin Liu, and Marek Romanowski. These varied programs have made strong contributions not only to image science but also to the practice of clinical medicine and preclinical biomedical research as the majority of research projects include members of our clinical faculty with significant expertise and experience across all clinical modalities.

The faculty has established strong extramurally funded pre-clinical and clinical research programs that have fostered multi-disciplinary collaborations within the University (e.g., Optical Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Psychology, Physiological Sciences, Speech and Hearing Sciences, Applied Mathematics, Cancer Biology, Chemistry) as well as with other universities, industry and the military. It serves as the hub and intellectual center for expanding collaborations and cultivating tremendous opportunities for growth and expansion in the increasingly important areas of molecular imaging, multi-modality imaging, and clinical translation.

Core research facilities and programs include the Center for Gamma Ray Imaging (CGRI) and the Southwest Animal Imaging Resource, a new 3.0T MR human and animal research facility, the Experimental Ultrasound & Neural Imaging Lab, the Medical Image Perception Lab, and a number of other key facilities and groups housed within Medical Imaging but with multi-disciplinary faculty and initiatives that span the COM and University.