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Aline Thomas, Ph.D.

Aline Thomas, Ph.D.

Headshot of Aline Thomas
  • Assistant Professor of Radiology and Radiological Science


Biomedical Engineering, Cancer, Diabetes, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Cord Injury more

Research Interests

Molecular and Cellular Imaging; Immunoengineering; Theranostics more


Prior to joining the SOM faculty in 2021, Dr. Aline Thomas received two S.B. degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biology at MIT and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University, specializing in polymer-based biomaterials. She also received postdoctoral training in immunoengineering from Dr. Julia Babensee at GaTech and in molecular MRI from Drs. Jeff Bulte and Peter van Zijl at JHU. Her current work merges these interests and experiences to develop translatable imaging biomarkers to improve treatment management, with a focus on immunotherapies.

Scientific contributions include:

  1. Identifying novel molecular biomarkers of immune evasion, immune activation and inflammation,
  2. Developing targeted imaging probes, particularly those visualized using chemical exchange saturation transfer MRI, and the analytical methods needed to quantify them,
  3. Evaluating established imaging biomarkers for immunological applications, and
  4. Developing functionalized materials to modulate immune responses. more


  • Assistant Professor of Radiology and Radiological Science

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • Ph.D.; Northwestern University (Illinois) (2013)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

At present, we are often unable to ascertain the reason an (immuno)therapy fails.

(Radioactive) labeling of clinical drugs can reveal the biodistribution of these compounds to determine if transport, e.g. through the blood-brain barrier, is a limitation. However, this strategy cannot reveal the mechanisms underlying the immunological changes that occur in disease, which can vary greatly from patient to patient, or whether these mechanisms are mitigated by or otherwise altered in response to the therapy.

Molecular imaging allows us to evaluate immune(-surveilling) cells and the factors that drive their behavior in the context of the diseased microenvironment. We are developing and translating clinically-relevant imaging biomarkers that can determine the immunological mechanisms responsible for more personalized care (precision medicine). 

Technology Expertise Keywords

MRI, CEST, Molecular and Cellular Imaging, Contrast agents, Reporter Genes, Nanoparticles, Polymers, Immunotherapy, Cell Transplantation, Theranostics

Selected Publications

Thomas AM, Li S, Chu C, Shats I, Xu J, Calabresi PA, van Zijl PCM, Walczak P, Bulte JWM. Evaluation of cell transplant-mediated attenuation of diffuse injury in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis using on VDMP CEST MRI.2020 Jul;329:113316.

Thomas AM, Beskid NM, Blanchfield JL, Rosado AM, García AJ, Adams AB, Babensee JE. Localized hydrogel delivery of dendritic cells for attenuation of multiple sclerosis in a murine model. J Biomed Mater Res A. 2020;e37118.

Thomas AM, Dong Y, Beskid NM, García AJ, Adams AB, Babensee JE. Brief Exposure to hyperglycemia activates dendritic cells in vitro and in vivo. J Cell Physiol. 2020 Jun;235(6):520-9.

Liu T, Thomas A, Chen Y, Bulte J, Song X. CEST MRI with distribution-based analysis for assessment of early stage disease activity in a multiple sclerosis mouse model. NMR in Biomed. 2019 July;32:e4139.

Thomas AM, Palma JL, Shea LD. Sponge-mediated lentivirus delivery to acute and chronic spinal cord injuries. Journal of Controlled Release. 2015 Apr 28;204:1-10.

Contact for Research Inquiries

Miller Research Building
733 N Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21205 map

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Activities & Honors


  • Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award, NIBIB, National Institutes of Health, 2021
  • Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund Postdoctoral Fellowship, TEDCO, 2017
  • CLIMB Scholar, Northwestern University, 2009
  • National Achievement Scholarship, National Merit Scholarship Corporation, 2004

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Recent News Articles and Media Coverage

Immunotherapy in Research and Treatment, Bruker

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