Thomas Conturo, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Radiology

Washington University in St. Louis (WU)

Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is a noninvasive means of providing images of the human body at high spatial resolution and contrast sensitivity. The contrast can be manipulated to depend on different properties of tissue water, enabling the study of a variety of biological processes. In some cases, endogenous or exogenous paramagnetic MR contrast agents are used to alter the MRI contrast by perturbing the tissue water environment. Recently, new MRI hardware has also enabled techniques having high temporal resolution. Using the unique contrast properties of MRI and the higher spatial/temporal resolution, noninvasive techniques can be devised to study neuronal activity, tissue perfusion, water mobility (diffusion), and neuronal fiber pathways in the human brain.

The goals of Dr. Conturo’s research lab are to develop and apply MR imaging techniques for quantitative imaging of cerebral perfusion, brain function, water diffusion, and neuronal fiber pathways. These techniques utilize the MR signal effects of exogenous bolus-injected contrast agents, endogenous hemoglobin, and microscopic water diffusion. Long-term goals are to apply these methodologies toward imaging and understanding human brain structure, function, and physiology in normal and abnormal conditions.

The approaches that are used in this laboratory cover a broad range of areas, including MRI physics, MRI pulse sequence development, theoretical derivations, computer simulations, image-processing, computer graphics, custom contrast agents, phantom studies, animal models, human studies, clinical patient studies, and comparison with other imaging modalities.