NNC » People

Core Leaders

Dr. Detre is Principal Investigator of the overall Center Core and Director of the Administrative and Data Acquisition Cores. He has been actively engaged in neuroimaging research at the University of Pennsylvania since 1988 and continuously funded since 1993, including K08, K02, K24, R01, R25, and T32 grants from NINDS.  He has collaborated widely with other investigators in this field, both in technical development and in applications.  He is widely recognized as an expert in functional neuroimaging, perfusion imaging, and clinical applications of neuroimaging.  These credentials have allowed Dr. Detre to provide successful interdisciplinary leadership in neuroimaging initiatives. Dr. Detre began working in in vivo neuroimaging as a medical student and over the past 20 years, his research has focused on physiological imaging methods and applications, including MRI, PET, and optical imaging in both preclinical models and humans.  He is an inventor of arterial spin labeled (ASL) perfusion MRI and pioneered many of its applications to neurological disorders.  He is also recognized as a leading expert in functional neuroimaging methods and applications.  Dr. Detre is Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Neurology, Director of the Center for Functional Neuroimaging in the Department of Radiology, and has been Principal Investigator of this P30 Center Core for the past 9 years.

Dr. Gee is Director of the Data Analysis Core. He is among the leadership as well as a longtime member of the Penn neuroimaging research community, earning his first R01 award from NINDS in 1995 while still a graduate student at Penn.  As one of the world’s foremost experts in computational anatomy, his multifaceted contributions to the field of medical image analysis are widely recognized. His seminal work on deformable image registration, its transformative application to the development of digital brain atlases and groundbreaking extensions to population templates and diffusion tensor imaging have established not only the state-of-the-art but the basis for major new research tracks that now dominate the field. Dr. Gee’s translation of his research accomplishments into highly acclaimed open-source software has further benefitted the field. In short, Dr. Gee is internationally recognized for his leadership in the analysis of brain imagery. With over 20 years of experience, he has contributed to virtually every area of statistical and morphometric image analysis methodology, and has promoted collaboration and open access to analysis software.

Dr. Aguirre is Director of the Computing Core. He is a behavioral neurologist and neuroscientist who has used neuroimaging techniques to study the cortical basis of vision since 1995. Much of his work advances the methodology of functional neuroimaging, and integrates across structure and function, healthy and patient populations, human and animal models, and electrophysiological and MRI techniques. He has been involved in the creation and dissemination of software for neuroimaging throughout his career. His breadth of methodological knowledge and computational implementation makes him well suited to direct this core. Also, Dr. Aguirre studies the cortical basis of visual cognition. His research makes use of both structural and functional MRI techniques, and within this field he has made substantial methodological contributions. He has particular expertise in the design and analysis of functional MRI time-series data and in the efficient design of neuroimaging studies. He has developed graph-theoretic approaches to experimental design, which provide for more rigorous and powerful experiments. He has co-taught a graduate course on neuroimaging methodology at Penn and has introduced students to "fMRI 101" at Penn for fifteen years.

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Core Personnel

Brian B. Avants, PhD is a Research Assistant Professor of Radiology that specializes in deeply software engineered image quantification tools that are cross-platform, unit-tested and developed by distributed teams. He is the original author of Advanced Normalization Tools (ANTs), which sets the standard for accessibility and performance in image registration and optimal anatomical template construction across imaging modalities, species and organs. He has also developed numerous approaches for multi-modality registration, segmentation and multivariate image analysis, leads ITKv4 image registration refactoring, and is currently developing integrated high-dimensional brain mapping tools within the R statistical programming environment.

Mark Elliott, PhD is a staff physicist focusing on structural MRI, fMRI, DTI, and multinuclear imaging.  He is operations manager for the 3 Tesla MRI system dedicated to neuroscience research as well as the 7 Tesla MRI system.  He is the primary contact for protocol implementation and is responsible for quality assurance testing on these instruments.  He also supervises the installation and maintenance of ancillary instrumentation for stimulus presentation and biobehavioral monitoring.

Joel Greenberg, PhD has 40 years of experience working in cerebral blood flow and metabolism, primarily in animal models.  For the past 20 years he has collaborated closely with the optics group in physics to translate novel optical technologies to applications in brain research.  He supports the use of optical monitoring in both humans and animal models as well as providing consultative support for animal modeling during MRI.

Roy Hamilton, MD, PhD is a cognitive neurologist and cognitive neuroscientist and manages the TMS lab in the Department of Neurology.

Rupal Bhavsar is a part time research coordinator and is responsible for data acquisition for various fMRI protocols through coordination of research subjects.

Jeremy Magland, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Radiology with a background in mathematics and computer science and six years of hands-on experience with pulse sequence design, medical image processing, and scientific software development. He has developed a flexible software framework for incorporating real-time capabilities into functional MRI experiments, including tools for rapid data collection, image analyses, and custom visualization of fMRI results in real-time.

Steven Pickup, PhD has been working in the field of magnetic resonance methods development and applications for approximately 30 years.  He has been Director of the small animal MRI facilities at the University of Pennsylvania since his arrival at the institution in 2000 and as Technical Director of the Small Animal Imaging Facility (SAIF) since it was founded in 2006.  The small animal MRI resources at Penn have recently been upgraded to state of the art levels as a result of two successful shared instrument grant applications authored by Dr. Pickup.

John Pluta, senior research assistant, has an undergraduate degree in engineering, and has been working in the NNC for 6 years assisting users with stimulus development and the use of stimulus delivery and biobehavioral response monitoring equipment. For the data analysis core, John Pluta also assisting users with the Core’s software and training resources, including helping to run analysis pipelines and protocols as well as providing individualized training on these capabilities.

Harish Poptani, PhD has been working on using in vivo MRI and MRS techniques for brain and cancer for over 20 years, and provides support for these methods in humans and rodent models. Spectroscopic methods for human brain include a high-resolution whole brain 3D MRS imaging method at 3 Tesla and a single voxel 2D L-COSY at 7 Tesla. He has developed methods for high-throughput MR microscopy of the mouse brain, high-resolution stem cell tracking in the mouse brain, and diffusion tensor imaging for isolated tissues. 

Hengyi Rao, PhD is a cognitive neuroscientist who has been working with neuroimaging and electrophysiological methods for over a decade.  Much of his research applications of ASL MRI in sleep and cognition, and he provides support for the use of EEG/ERP instrumentation that can be used concurrently with fMRI acquisition.  He also supports modeling of ASL fMRI for the Data Acquisition Core.

Margaret Ryan, MLA has been the associate director for the administrative core since 2003. She has a deep institutional knowledge of Penn and research administration, a background in medical publishing and is a valuable source of knowledge regarding regulatory information and user training. She is an active member of SOCRA and is an original Penn certified Clinical Research Coordinator. Margaret has served as a member of CAMRIS committee (radiology safety committee) since 2004. She is responsible for the MRI scheduling calendar, all websites, development/outreach, supervisory functions and overall operational and administrative functions of the NNC.

Michael Stauffer is a system administrator and is responsible for the maintenance of our computing clusters, data storage, backup, and archiving, the web server, and for assisting new investigators wishing to access the computing cluster or to establish data processing facilities within their own laboratories.

Ze Wang, PhD is a Research Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering with extensive experience in signal processing using various advanced methods such as PCA, ICA, WT, and SVM.  He developed the ASLtbx software for ASL fMRI data analysis.

Ronald Wolf, MD, PhD is a neuroradiologist whose research focuses on clinical applications of functional neuroimaging.  For this Core he provides expert consultation on neuroanatomical localization and provides clinical skills for the interpretation of incidental findings that occur commonly in the course of human neuroimaging research.  Dr. Wolf also assists with the management of incidental findings.

Paul A. Yushkevich, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Radiology with expertise in the development of computational algorithms for biomedical imaging analysis including automatic image segmentation, computational modeling and statistical analysis of anatomical shape, applications of machine learning to image analysis, analysis and registration of postmortem microscopy images, and large-scale open-source software development. He leads development of ITK-SNAP, arguably the most widely used open-source interactive segmentation software in the world. Dr. Yushkevich teaches a course on biomedical imaging analysis that is open to the NNC community.