The Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences provides an extremely fertile environment for basic science and clinical research. Two separate entities support the research enterprise within the department, The Section of Radiological Sciences, and The Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS).

The Section of Radiological Sciences consists of a group of basic scientists under the direction of David Pickens, Ph.D., who provide the quality assurance basis for the high-technology medical imaging modalities within the department and provide clinical translational support for these modalities. In addition to quality assurance support, this group of physicists, biomedical engineers, radiobiologists, and chemists contribute to basic research and teach the principles of medical imaging to residents, medical students, graduate students, and students in the allied health professions.

Ongoing Research Projects Include:

  • Development of Methods for Quantitative Cancer Imaging
  • CT Radiation Dose Optimization in Pediatric Patients
  • Tissue-Specific Coherent-scatter Computed Topography
  • Quantitation of Tumor Blood Flow with Microbubble Ultrasound Contrast Agents
  • X-Ray Phase Contrast Digital Tomosynthesis
  • Radiation Epidemiology 

Clinical Translational Projects:
Members of the Division provide clinical translational support for the technical development, implementation, or refinement of clinical imaging procedures derived from research projects in order to foster improved patient care. Such work involves the refinement of research methods so that they can be used clinically in an effective and efficient manner. Other clinical activities include evaluation of radiation dose for patients having various x-ray or nuclear imaging procedures and evaluation of new technologies that could be incorporated into the clinical imaging enterprise. 
Clincal Translational Projects in Progress:

  • Implementation of magnetic resonance urography pulse sequences and processing techniques
  • Implementation of CT bone densitometry methods
  • Development of processing methods for magnetic resonance quantification of liver iron
  • Patient-specific dose calculations
  • Improved dose reduction protocols for CT and radiography

A major factor in the development of the radiology program at Vanderbilt has been the establishment of VUIIS under the direction of John Gore, Ph.D.. This is an institutional initiative bringing together a strong faculty of imaging scientists with diverse backgrounds and broad expertise in a comprehensive, integrated program dedicated to using imaging to improve health-care and for advancing knowledge in the biological sciences. VUIIS pursues research in developing new imaging methods as well as applications in cancer, neuroscience, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease and other areas. VUIIS supports advances in physics, engineering, computing, chemistry, and other basic sciences for the development and application of new and enhanced imaging techniques to address problems and stimulate new research directions in biology and medicine in health and disease. A new imaging research building has been completed to house this institute and provide state-of-the-art facilities for imaging research at all scales from small animals to human subjects.

Section Chair and Members


David R. Pickens, Ph.D. III
Associate Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences
Chief, Section of Radiological Sciences