James J. Pekar, Ph.D.

Headshot of James J. Pekar
  • Professor of Radiology and Radiological Science

Research Interests

Magnetic resonance imaging of brain physiology and function. ...read more


Dr. James J. Pekar is a Professor in the Johns Hopkins Medicine Department of Radiology and Radiological Science. He specializes in brain imaging and magnetic resonance research.

Dr. Pekar completed his B.S. in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and received his Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1988. After fellowships at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, he served as an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Director of the Neurobiological Magnetic Resonance Laboratory at the Institute for Cognitive and Computational Sciences at Georgetown University Medical Center. He joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins in 1999 as an Assistant Professor.

Dr. Pekar has published more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and in 2015 was made a Fellow of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine “in recognition of contributions to the development of methods for the acquisition and analysis of magnetic resonance data reporting on brain physiology and function."

In addition to his position at Johns Hopkins, he serves as Manager and Research Coordinator of the F.M. Kirby Research Center for Functional Brain Imaging of the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

...read more


  • Professor of Radiology and Radiological Science

Departments / Divisions



  • B.S.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Massachusetts) (1981)
  • Ph.D.; University of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania) (1988)

Additional Training

In Vivo NMR Research Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, 1991, National Research Council Associate; Laboratory of Diagnostic Radiology Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, 1995, Senior Staff Fellow; Physical Chemistry Section, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Bethesda, MD, 1992, Senior Staff Fellow

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Pekar is a biophysicist who uses a variety of magnetic resonance techniques to study brain physiology and function.

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Hua J, Qin Q, van Zijl PC, Pekar JJ, Jones CK. “Whole-brain three-dimensional T2-weighted BOLD functional magnetic resonance imaging at 7 Tesla.” Magn Reson Med. 2013 Dec 12. doi: 10.1002/mrm.25055. [Epub ahead of print]

Unschuld PG, Liu X, Shanahan M, Margolis RL, Bassett SS, Brandt J, Schretlen DJ, Redgrave GW, Hua J, Hock C, Reading SA, van Zijl PC, Pekar JJ, Ross CA. “Prefrontal executive function associated coupling relates to Huntington's disease stage.” Cortex. 2013 Nov-Dec; 49(10): 2661-73. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2013.05.015. Epub 2013 Jun 26

Choe AS, Belegu V, Yoshida S, Joel S, Sadowsky CL, Smith SA, van Zijl PC, Pekar JJ, McDonald JW. “Extensive neurological recovery from a complete spinal cord injury: a case report and hypothesis on the role of cortical plasticity.” Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Jun 25; 7:290. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00290. eCollection 2013

Unschuld PG, Buchholz AS, Varvaris M, van Zijl PC, Ross CA, Pekar JJ, Hock C, Sweeney JA, Tamminga CA, Keshavan MS, Pearlson GD, Thaker GK, Schretlen DJ. “Prefrontal brain network connectivity indicates degree of both schizophrenia risk and cognitive dysfunction.” Schizophr Bull. 2013 Jun 18. [Epub ahead of print]

Barber AD, Caffo BS, Pekar JJ, Mostofsky SH. “Effects of working memory demand on neural mechanisms of motor response selection and control.” J Cogn Neurosci. 2013 Aug; 25(8):1235-48. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00394. Epub 2013 Mar 26

Activities & Honors


  • Fellow, International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, 2015

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