Radiology Research

Dr. Dennis Parker

The Department of Radiology is fortunate to have an internationally acclaimed research division, Utah Center for Advanced Imaging Research (UCAIR). UCAIR is a university-recognized center, supporting all types of imaging research throughout the campus. UCAIR currently consists of 75 employees including PhD scientists, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, medical students, clinical radiologists and staff. We provide the technology and infrastructure necessary to conduct and support research, including state-of-the-art imaging hardware and imaging techniques, as well as opportunities for collaboration with our research-oriented medical physicists, engineers, radiologists and technologists. UCAIR also supports two clinical coordinators to facilitate clinical trials. UCAIR is located in the INC building in Research Park, adjacent to the University of Utah Campus and the University of Utah Medical Center.

A major goal of UCAIR is to develop novel imaging solutions to important medical problems. Our emphasis is on CT, MRI, PET and SPECT and their novel clinical applications. Some of our resources available for this research effort are listed below:

  • MRI Service/Recharge Center
    Created within UCAIR, the Recharge Center manages time on all six 3 Tesla and several 1.5 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners in the Department of Radiology to provide MRI capabilities with customized MRI sequences and receiver coils that are beyond the standard of care. Our dedicated MRI equipment is unparalleled in the Intermountain Region for the handling of the most difficult and unique research projects.
  • Siemens TIM Trio 3 Tesla MRI scanner
    Most research projects are performed on “the 3T”, located in the INC building in Research Park.
  • Siemens Verio 3T MRI scanner
    Major projects in interventional cardiac imaging are performed on the Verio, which is interfaced through a Miyabi patient transport to a Zeego robotic X-ray angiography system.
  • IMRIS Suspended Verio 3 T MRI scanner
    The newest addition to our imaging armamentarium is a 3T magnet that may be moved into and out of a surgical suite as required. The IMRIS enables new projects in neuro-intervention and stroke management. It is located in the Clinical Neurosciences Building adjacent to the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
  • Molecular Imaging Program
    Isotope-based imaging research is supported by the Molecular Imaging Program, under the direction of John Hoffman, MD, a member of the Department of Radiology faculty and medical director of UCAIR. The Molecular Imaging Program, located in the Huntsman Cancer Institute, manages a PET/nuclear medicine GE PETtrace cyclotron with negative ion accelerator, in addition to research-dedicated PET and PET/CT scanners.
  • CT and SPECT equipment is also available at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, the Veterans Administration Hospital and the University hospital.

Research Projects at UCAIR

Our major research areas at UCAIR are the following:

  • Multi-tracer PET imaging
  • Cardiac PET imaging
  • Multi-modality PET/CT, PET/MR imaging
  • Tumor-specific PET imaging
  • Ultrafast CT imaging for cardiological applications
  • CT technology development
  • Development of SPECT imaging technology
  • Neuroimaging, especially fMRI for brain connectivity studies
  • Dynamic cardiac imaging for perfusion estimation; this includes the development of fast MR imaging techniques to enable high-resolution cardiac imaging
  • Diffusion MRI for imaging spinal cord integrity
  • Non-proton MR imaging (phosphorus- and fluorine-based)
  • MRI for atrial fibrillation assessment and treatment
  • Breast/breast cancer MR imaging
  • MR-guided high intensity focused ultrasound for breast (and other) cancer therapy
  • Quantitative functional MR imaging for improved understanding of physiology and disease (renal and liver diseases particularly)
  • MR imaging for analysis of carotid plaque, vascular imaging among others
  • Development of MR software and hardware (novel sequences/gradients/coils)

UCAIR publishes profusely, collaborates widely and presents regularly at national and international scientific conferences. Locally, our latest research developments are presented at the UCAIR seminar series and our annual UCAIR Symposium.