UCSF Launches New Master's Degree Program in Biomedical Imaging

By Juliana Bunim

UCSF students will soon have the opportunity to broaden their investigative projects with a comprehensive understanding of imaging as part of a new Master’s Degree Program in Biomedical Imaging (MBI) launching this fall.

UCSF faculty, from left, David Saloner, Sharmila Majumdar and Alastair Martin, chairs of the new master's degree program in biomedical imaging, look forward to the first class that begins this fall on the China Basin campus.

“We are the leading health science campus for the UC system and have faculty and physicians who have embraced quantitative imaging,” said Sharmila Majumdar, PhD, professor of radiology and biomedical imaging and co-chair of the MBI program committee. “We are uniquely positioned because of our resources and faculty expertise.”

One of the first programs of its kind, the MBI is intended for students with bachelor’s degrees, advanced pre-doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, residents, researchers and faculty who want to have a deeper knowledge of imaging techniques. The master’s degree may be completed in one year of full time study or completed on a part time schedule but in an interval not to exceed three years.

“The technology behind biomedical imaging has greatly progressed in the last 10 to 20 years, increasing the speed and quality of imaging and driving a greater need for advanced education,” Majumdar said. “Imaging technology has continued to blossom and is applied not just to measure tissue structure, but also functionality.”

Course work will include instruction in core theory drawn from imaging physics, engineering and mathematics linked to physiology and disease. The integration of these key disciplines will provide a foundation in interdisciplinary learning for students.

In addition to introducing the fundamentals of image formation, students will also participate in hands-on laboratory courses with experiments relevant for identifying diseases, monitoring response to therapy, and assessing the underlying causes. 

“The blend of theory with practical applications is central to what we are offering in this program,” said Alastair Martin, PhD, professor of radiology and biomedical imaging and director of graduate studies for the MBI program. “We want students to leave the program not only with an understanding of imaging principles, but also with a strong flavor for how it is applied in the real world.”

UCSF provides a particularly suitable setting for this program. Not only does imaging play a pivotal role in clinical decision-making, but it is a major component of the research efforts of investigators from a broad range of disciplines at UCSF.

"Students in the program will therefore have a wealth of material to provide a context for defining the requirements and challenges of implementing cutting-edge imaging methods in relevant conditions,” said David Saloner, PhD, professor of radiology and biomedical imaging and co-chair of the MBI program committee.

Graduates of the MBI program will be well prepared for a variety of career options. There are an increasing number of companies that use imaging in their own research programs or that are involved in designing, ensuring quality control, or in analyzing large trials with major imaging components. 

Similarly, there is a need for well trained imaging scientists to support research programs both in radiology departments and among the increasing number of disciplines that rely on imaging tools. It is also expected that the program will serve to crystallize students goals and that some graduates of the program will choose to pursue a subsequent doctoral degree in pursuit of their own independent research programs.

“We fully expect that UCSF will end up wanting to recruit the most successful graduates of this program to our own expanding imaging programs. If that is the case, we had better provide them the best education they can possibly get,” said Saloner.

Classes will be offered exclusively at the UCSF China Basin campus, with labs at the Mission Bay and Parnassus locations. Applications will be accepted for the program until Tuesday, May 24.

For more information, please visit this website.

Photo by Susan Merrell

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