Maria I. Altbach, PhD

Professor, Medical Imaging and Biomedical Engineering
Vice Chair, Faculty Affairs
Director, MRI Innovation

I am a Professor of Medical Imaging and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Arizona. My expertise is in the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques with an emphasis on abdominal imaging.  My research group develops novel radial MRI acquisition and reconstruction strategies that provide motion insensitive images with high spatial and temporal resolution to yield better tools for image interpretation. The overall goal of our research is to improve the diagnosis of disease.  We work with highly undersampled data allowing us to obtain images from significantly less data than conventional methods improving imaging efficiency and patient throughput and compliance. One of the goals of our research is to be able to derive parameters for the quantification of disease from data acquired within the time constraints of a clinical MRI examination. We have pioneered methods for high resolution parametric mapping from highly undersampled radial MRI data providing unique techniques for the quantitative characterization of disease. The idea is to complement the current qualitative approach of clinical radiology with a time efficient but quantitative or “parametric” approach. 

For over 20 years, I have directed a team at the University of Arizona on the development of novel MRI techniques to improve the diagnostic capabilities of the technology.  Our work has been supported by the NIH and the American Heart Association for the past 18 years, and thus I have extensive experience managing funded projects.

I have also extensive experience as a mentor. I have trained a total of 16 PhD and MSc students and 7 post-doctoral fellows (both basic and clinical scientists). Most of the trainees have continued into positions (or further training) at several academic and research institutions such as the Barrow Neurological Institute, University of Michigan, the Food and Drug Administration, University of Toronto, Harvard Medical School, Stony Brook University, and the University of Arizona.

  • PhD: Louisiana State University, 1988

Select Publications


Fu, Z., K. Johnson, M. I. Altbach, and A. Bilgin, "Cancellation of streak artifacts in radial abdominal imaging using interference null space projection.", Magn Reson Med, vol. 88, issue 3, pp. 1355-1369, 2022 Sep. PMCID: PMC9973517  PMID: 35608238


Keerthivasan, M. B., J-P. Galons, K. Johnson, L. Umapathy, D. R. Martin, A. Bilgin, and M. I. Altbach, "Abdominal T2-Weighted Imaging and T2 Mapping Using a Variable Flip Angle Radial Turbo Spin-Echo Technique.", J Magn Reson Imaging, 2021 Jul 13. PMID: 34254382
Li, Z., Z. Fu, M. Keerthivasan, A. Bilgin, K. Johnson, J-P. Galons, S. Vedantham, D. R. Martin, and M. I. Altbach, "Rapid high-resolution volumetric T mapping using a highly accelerated stack-of-stars Look Locker technique.", Magn Reson Imaging, vol. 79, pp. 28-37, 2021 Mar 17. PMID: 33722634


Fu, Z., S. Mandava, M. B. Keerthivasan, Z. Li, K. Johnson, D. R. Martin, M. I. Altbach, and A. Bilgin, "A multi-scale residual network for accelerated radial MR parameter mapping.", Magn Reson Imaging, vol. 73, pp. 152-162, 2020 Nov. PMCID: PMC7580302  PMID: 32882339


Keerthivasan, M. Bharath, M. Saranathan, K. Johnson, Z. Fu, C. C. Weinkauf, D. R. Martin, A. Bilgin, and M. I. Altbach, "An efficient 3D stack-of-stars turbo spin echo pulse sequence for simultaneous T2-weighted imaging and T2 mapping.", Magn Reson Med, vol. 82, issue 1, pp. 326-341, 2019 Jul. PMCID: PMC10191119  PMID: 30883879


Keerthivasan, M. B., B. Winegar, J. L. Becker, A. Bilgin, M. I. Altbach, and M. Saranathan, "Clinical Utility of a Novel Ultrafast T2-Weighted Sequence for Spine Imaging.", AJNR Am J Neuroradiol, vol. 39, issue 8, pp. 1568-1575, 2018 08. PMCID: PMC7410539 
Blew, R., T. Lohman, V. Lee, MI. Altbach, JP. Galons, S. Going, J. Bea, and M. Hetherington-Rauth, Validation of pQCT-Derived Thigh Adipose Tissue Sub-Compartments in Young Girls Using a 3T MRI Scanner, 2018.
Bilgin, A., K. Johnson, D. Martin, and M. Altbach, High-resolution 3D T1 mapping of the prostate with an efficient inversion-recovery radial FLASH, 2018.
Mandava, S., M. Keerthivasan, Z. Li, DR. Martin, MI. Altbach, and A. Bilgin, Accelerated MR Parameter Mapping with a Union of Local Subspaces Constraint, 2018.
Altbach, M., K. Johnson, M. Keerthisavan, J. Becker, and A. Bilgin, Rapid Carotid Artery T2 and T1 Mapping Using a Radial TSE and IR-FLASH Approach, 2018.
Keerthivasan, MB., S. Mandava, K. Johnson, R. Avery, R. Janardhanan, DR. Martin, A. Bilgin, and MI. Altbach, A Multi-Band Double-Inversion Radial Fast Spin-Echo Technique for T2 Mapping of the Heart, 2018.
Li, Z., A. Bilgin, K. Johnson, J-P. Galons, S. Vedantham, D. R. Martin, and M. I. Altbach, "Rapid High-Resolution T Mapping Using a Highly Accelerated Radial Steady-state Free-precession Technique.", J Magn Reson Imaging, 2018 Aug 24.
Ding, J., A. T. Stopeck, Y. Gao, M. T. Marron, B. C. Wertheim, M. I. Altbach, J-P. Galons, D. J. Roe, F. Wang, G. Maskarinec, et al., "Reproducible automated breast density measure with no ionizing radiation using fat-water decomposition MRI.", J Magn Reson Imaging, vol. 48, issue 4, pp. 971-981, 2018 Oct. PMCID: PMC6173993  PMID: 29630755
Keerthivasan, MB., B. Winegar, JL. Becker, A. Bilgin, M. Altbach, and M. Saranathan, Clinical Utility of a Novel Ultrafast T2-Weighted Sequence for Spine Imaging, 2018.


Pandey, A., U. Yoruk, M. Keerthivasan, J-P. Galons, P. Sharma, K. Johnson, D. R. Martin, M. I. Altbach, A. Bilgin, and M. Saranathan, "Multiresolution imaging using golden angle stack-of-stars and compressed sensing for dynamic MR urography.", J Magn Reson Imaging, vol. 46, issue 1, pp. 303-311, 2017 Jul.
Rosado-Toro, J. A., A. Abidov, M. I. Altbach, I. B. Oliva, J. J. Rodriguez, and R. J. Avery, "Segmentation of the right ventricle in four chamber cine cardiac MR images using polar dynamic programming.", Comput Med Imaging Graph, 2017 Aug 18. PMID: 28886885
Keerthivasan, MB., A. Bilgin, KJ. Johnson, and MI. Altbach, Flexible and Efficient 2D Radial TSE T2 Mapping with Tiered Echo Sharing and with “Pseudo” Golden Angle Ratio Reordering, 2017.
Thomson, C. A., H. H. Sherry Chow, B. C. Wertheim, D. J. Roe, A. Stopeck, G. Maskarinec, M. Altbach, P. Chalasani, C. Huang, M. B. Strom, et al., "A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of diindolylmethane for breast cancer biomarker modulation in patients taking tamoxifen.", Breast Cancer Res Treat, vol. 165, issue 1, pp. 97-107, 2017 Aug. PMCID: PMC5571834  PMID: 28560655


Brand, J. F., L. R. Furenlid, M. I. Altbach, J-P. Galons, A. Bhattacharyya, P. Sharma, T. Bhattacharyya, A. Bilgin, and D. R. Martin, "Task-based optimization of flip angle for fibrosis detection in T1-weighted MRI of liver.", J Med Imaging (Bellingham), vol. 3, issue 3, pp. 035502, 2016 Jul. PMCID: PMC4955011  PMID: 27446971
JA, M., C. P, T. CA, R. D, A. M, and et. al Galons J-P, "Phase II study of metformin for reduction of obesity-associated breast cancer risk: a randomized controlled trial protocol", BMC Cancer, 07/2016.


Berman, B. P., A. Pandey, Z. Li, L. Jeffries, T. P. Trouard, I. Oliva, F. Cortopassi, D. R. Martin, M. I. Altbach, and A. Bilgin, "Volumetric MRI of the lungs during forced expiration.", Magn Reson Med, 2015 Jul 3.


Trouard, T. P., R. J. Theilmann, M. I. Altbach, and A. F. Gmitro, "High-resolution diffusion imaging with DIFRAD-FSE (diffusion-weighted radial acquisition of data with fast spin-echo) MRI.", Magn Reson Med, vol. 42, issue 1, pp. 11-8, 1999 Jul. PMID: 10398944
Raghunand, N., M. I. Altbach, R. van Sluis, B. Baggett, C. W. Taylor, Z. M. Bhujwalla, and R. J. Gillies, "Plasmalemmal pH-gradients in drug-sensitive and drug-resistant MCF-7 human breast carcinoma xenografts measured by 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy.", Biochem Pharmacol, vol. 57, issue 3, pp. 309-12, 1999 Feb 01.


Trouard, T. P., M. I. Altbach, G. C. Hunter, C. D. Eskelson, and A. F. Gmitro, "MRI and NMR spectroscopy of the lipids of atherosclerotic plaque in rabbits and humans.", Magn Reson Med, vol. 38, issue 1, pp. 19-26, 1997 Jul. PMID: 9211375


Trouard, T. P., Y. Sabharwal, M. I. Altbach, and A. F. Gmitro, "Analysis and comparison of motion-correction techniques in diffusion-weighted imaging.", J Magn Reson Imaging, vol. 6, issue 6, pp. 925-35, 1996 Nov-Dec. PMID: 8956139


Inisan, A. G., S. Meunier, O. Fedelli, M. Altbach, V. Fremont, J. M. Sabatier, A. Thévan, J. M. Bernassau, C. Cambillau, and H. Darbon, "Structure-activity relationship study of a scorpion toxin with high affinity for apamin-sensitive potassium channels by means of the solution structure of analogues.", Int J Pept Protein Res, vol. 45, issue 5, pp. 441-50, 1995 May.


Altbach, M. I., CA. Muedas, RP. Korswagen, and ML. Ziegler, "1H NMR Study of the Reversible cis/trans Isomerization of {(-CH2)( -CO)[h5-C5H5)Fe(CO)]2}", Journal of organometallic chemistry, pp. 306:375, 1986.