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Dr. Peter van Zijl


Professor of Radiology
Director, F.M. Kirby Research Center for Functional Brain Imaging


Ph.D., Mathematics and Physics


Fellow, Carnegie Mellon University and National Cancer Institute

Research Summary

Dr. van Zijl’s present research focuses on developing new methodologies for using MRI and Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) to study brain function and physiology. In addition he is working on understanding the basic mechanisms of the MRI signal changes measured during functional MRI (fMRI) tests of the brain. Other interests are in mapping the wiring of the brain (axonal connections between the brains functional regions) and the design of new technologies for molecular MRI such as imaging of proteins and peptides in tumors and tracking of cell migration and gene expression. A more recent interest is the development of bioorganic biodegradable MRI contrast agents. The ultimate goal is to transform these technologies into fast methods that are compatible with the time available for multi-modal clinical diagnosis using MRI. Dr. van Zijl’s research is funded by several grants from the National Center for Research Resources and the National Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering.

Journal Citations

Zhou J, Blakeley JO, Hua J, Kim M, Laterra J, Pomper MG, van Zijl PC. Practical data acquisition method for human brain tumor amide proton transfer (APT) imaging. Magn Reson Med. 2008 Oct;60(4):842-9.

Smith, S.A.; Bulte, J.W.; van Zijl, P.C. Direct saturation MRI: theory and application to imaging brain iron. Magn Reson Med. 2009 Aug;62(2):384-393.

Zhang, W.; Li, X.; Zhang, J.; Luft, A.; Hanley, D.F.; van Zijl, P.; Miller, M.I.; Younes, L.; Mori, S. Landmark-referenced voxel-based analysis of diffusion tensor images of the brainstem white matter tracts: application in patients with middle cerebral artery stroke. NeuroImage. 2009 Feb 1;44(3):906-913.

Friedman, J.I.; McMahon, M.T.; Stivers, J.T.; Van Zijl, P.C. Indirect detection of labile solute proton spectra via the water signal using frequency-labeled exchange (FLEX) transfer. J Am Chem Soc. 2010 Feb 17;132(6):1813-1815.

Zhu, H.; Jones, C.K.; van Zijl, P.C.; Barker, P.B.; Zhou, J. Fast 3D chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) imaging of the human brain. Magn Reson Med. 2010 Sep;64(3):638-644.

Zhou, J.; Tryggestad, E.; Wen, Z.; Lal, B.; Zhou, T.; Grossman, R.; Wang, S.; Yan, K.; Fu, D.X.; Ford, E.; Tyler, B.; Blakeley, J.; Laterra, J.; van Zijl, P.C. Differentiation between glioma and radiation necrosis using molecular magnetic resonance imaging of endogenous proteins and peptides. Nat Med. 2011 Jan;17(1):130-134.

McMahon MT, Gilad AA, DeLiso MA, Berman SM, Bulte JW, van Zijl PC. New "multicolor" polypeptide diamagnetic chemical exchange saturation transfer (DIACEST) contrast agents for MRI. Magn Reson Med. 2008 Oct;60(4):803-12.

van Zijl PC, Jones CK, Ren J, Malloy CR, Sherry AD. MRI detection of glycogen in vivo by using chemical exchange saturation transfer imaging (glycoCEST). Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Mar 13;104(11):4359-64.

S. Wakana, H. Jiang, L.M. Nagae-Poetscher, P.C.M. van Zijl, and S. Mori, Fiber-tract Based Atlas of Human White Matter Anatomy, Radiology, 230, 77-87 (2004).

J. Zhou, J.-F. Payen, D.A. Wilson, R.J. Traystman, and P.C.M. van Zijl. Using the amide proton signals of intracellular proteins and peptides to detect pH effects in MRI, Nature Med. 9(8), 1085-1090 (2003).

H. Lu, X. Golay, J. Pekar, and P.C.M. van Zijl, Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Based on Changes in Vascular Space Occupancy, Magn. Reson. Med., 50, 263-274 (2003).

P.C.M. van Zijl, S.M. Eleff, J.A. Ulatowski, J.M.E. Oja, A.M. Ulug, R.J. Traystman, and R.A. Kauppinen, Quantitative Assessment of Blood Flow, Blood Volume and Blood Oxygenation by Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Nature Medicine, 4(2), 159-167 (1998).


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