Symposium Highlights Breadth, Depth of Biomedical Imaging Research

For eight years now the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging has showcased its discoveries, its hard work and its hopes for the future at an event called the Imaging Research Symposium.

The Imaging Research Symposium on Aug. 31 drew members of the UCSF community to learn about the latest advances in research, which were presented in posters and in presentations.

“Every year it expands, it excels and it goes beyond what it was the year before,” said Sharmila Majumdar, PhD, professor and vice chair for research in the department, during her opening remarks at the Aug. 31 symposium on the Parnassus campus.

The symposium highlighted UCSF's breadth, depth and diversity of research across multiple disciplines, organs and diseases, from neurology and musculoskeletal degeneration to cardiac ailments and osteoarthritis.

“Today you’ll see the entire spectrum of the research,” Majumdar said in an interview before the 15 oral presentations, which drew more than 180 people to Cole Hall. “This is a fairly significant symposium, not only for the institution but for the general public. It represents what we do best at UCSF, which is translating state-of-the-art techniques directly into clinical applications. The time lag that you see in other places you will not see here.”

Subjects of the presentations included brain atrophy acceleration, tumor stromal boundaries, hemodialysis fistulas, mild traumatic brain injury, molecular breast composition, and chronic cigarette smoking in alcohol dependence.

Xiaojuan Li, PhD, an associate professor in radiology and in UC Berkeley-UCSF bioengineering, said the symposium allows people in the radiology department to attract collaborators and to see what their colleagues have been doing, which could be relevant to their own research.

“These days society is so specialized,” she said.

Majumdar said the research was conducted at all levels — doctors, fellows, medical students, PhDs, postdocs and high school students — and provided extensive training at each of those levels. UCSF’s radiology department is second in the nation in terms of funding from the National Institutes of Health, behind Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Research in radiology has become much more structured and gained more recognition than I’ve ever seen before,” said Majumdar, who has worked at UCSF for 22 years. “When I came here it was important to do research, but the infrastructure was not organized. Now it’s a central entity, and each of our researchers is internationally known.”


Ronald Arenson, professor and chair of radiology and biomedical imaging, presented the Bruce Hasegawa Award to Simon Hu.

Continuing the Vision

After more than three hours of oral presentations, everyone migrated across the street to Millberry Union for a poster session and presentation of the annual Bruce Hasegawa Award, honoring the beloved UCSF radiology professor and director of the Physics Research Laboratory, who died of a stroke in 2008.

Ronald Arenson, MD, professor and chair of radiology and biomedical imaging, presented the award to Simon Hu, PhD, who said the work he is doing with his colleagues continues Hasegawa’s vision, combining MR anatomic imaging and hyperpolarized carbon-13 metabolic imaging, which he described as an exciting new modality.

“It’s a tremendous honor because Bruce was such a pro in the field,” said Hu, who applied for UCSF’s bioengineering program six years ago and was interviewed by Hasegawa.

Majumdar said the project is a good example of work that will have a deep effect on people. As another example, she cited research that looks at individuals with osteoarthritis and relates quantitative imaging measures to functions, such as walking or jumping, and changes in the biochemistry of their tissues.

“So, in terms of what you should be doing for physical exercise, what’s good for you, it’s going to have tremendous impact,” she said. “And we might be able to guide surgeons better.”

The research was presented by 23-year-old staff research associate Samuel Wu. In his conclusion, he said that motion analysis testing in combination with quantitative MRI can be useful tools to identify patients at high risk for developing osteoarthritis.

“I have all these people who are very knowledgeable and friendly,” Wu, who is applying to medical schools, said afterward. “The mentorship is very good.”

Awards for Best Presentation went to Jason Talbott for “Diffusion Weighted-MRI of White Matter Injury Produced by Ethidium Bromide and Cervical Spinal Cord Contusion Injuries in the Rat,” and to Olga Tymofiyeva for “Mapping the Structural Connectivity Network in the Baby Brain Using Diffusion MRI.”

Awards for “Best Poster” among the 54 entries were given to Janine Lupo for “The Effects of Anti-Angiogenic Therapy on the Formation of Radiation-Induced Microbleeds in Normal Brain Tissue of Patients with Glioma” and to Lllewellyn Jalbert for “Magnetic Resonance of 2-Hydroxyglutarate (2HG) in IDH1-mutant low-grade Gliomas.”

“It’s cool,” said Jalbert, a first-year PhD student in bioengineering. “This is a new prognostic marker for brain tumors. It’s the first project I’ve had that’s easily translatable. The radiology department is so diverse in what it’s doing. It’s incredible. It’s way more diverse than what you’d think a radiology department would be.”