Radiating Hope: Radiology Department Blog


The Imaging Research Center: Today’s Research is Tomorrow’s Care

The Imaging Research Center: Today’s Research is Tomorrow’s Care

How can imaging change the outcome for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases in children and young adults? This is the question that drives the work of the faculty and staff of the Imaging Research Center at Cincinnati Children’s.

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You may be familiar with the Radiology Department at Cincinnati Children’s from the MRI, CT, x-ray or ultrasound imaging exams your child has received, but you might not know about the world of imaging research taking place at the Imaging Research Center (IRC), the nation’s largest research center focused on pediatric imaging. It is a division of the Department of Radiology, as well as a core resource in the Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation. The scientists in the IRC conduct research with state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging technologies and investigate medical imaging’s role in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases in children and young adults. The IRC is home to approximately 15 PhD faculty members as well as post-doctoral fellows, students, other trainees and staff.


The IRC has its own research equipment including MRI, CT scanners, cath lab, and ultrasound. The IRC conducts independently funded research and collaborates with other departments of Cincinnati Children’s and the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine. In these collaborations, the IRC provides access to technology and techniques to answer scientific questions that cannot be answered any other way. The IRC is also involved in diverse research projects that develop new methods of imaging, new ways to use imaging, as well as better ways to enhance the work flow in radiology departments to improve the overall experience for patients and families.

Teaching is at the heart of the IRC. The diverse nature of the research and the people working there requires that teaching and learning be a continuous process that is woven into every project. The IRC educates not only students but other clinicians about the possibilities and limitations of imaging. This exciting challenge helps the IRC to develop even better imaging techniques and advance the capabilities and applications of imaging.
IRC research is focused on both medical problems and technology innovation. The researchers also strive to provide a deeper understanding of important medical questions and find answers that help doctors move closer to potential cures. One research project that exemplifies this is the IRC’s development of a new MR scanner for neonatal imaging. In this project, a multi-disciplinary team of scientists, engineers and clinicians designed, built and validated a small MR scanner that is now in routine use in the Cincinnati Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This new scanner is being used in a number of research projects to learn more about the challenges that are faced by some of our smallest patients. IRC researchers are finding ways to build better and safer “cameras” that provide new insights into disease.

The IRC is doing some of the most relevant imaging research in the country. This research is taking on the tough medical questions that can lead to improvements in the care of children in Cincinnati and across the world. In the IRC “today’s research is tomorrow’s clinical care.”

Contributed by Charles Dumoulin, PhD, Kim Cecil, PhD, and edited by Catherine Leopard.

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About the author: Alex Towbin

Alex is a radiologist and the Neil D. Johnson Chair of Radiology Informatics. In this role, he helps to manage the information systems used by the Radiology department. Clinically, Alex is the Assistant Director of thoracoabdominal imaging. His research interests include liver disease, liver tumors, inflammatory bowel disease, and appendicitis.