Constant Innovation in Vascular Imaging to Better Serve Veterans

Vascular disease affects the broad network of veins throughout the body. It consists of abnormalities in blood vessels, and its fatal dangers include stroke and aneurysm. Nearly half the American population suffers some kind of vascular disease in their lifetime. But while two patients of similar age and background may be diagnosed with vascular disease, they are likely to have entirely different disease progressions.

Dr. David Saloner, PhD, Professor in Residence in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at UCSF, describes the title of his profession as “imaging scientist.” He is also director of the Vascular Imaging Research Center at the VA, where he and his team use radiologic tools to study what makes vascular diseases’ progression vary so much for each individual. 

“Newer imaging techniques can better inform surgeons and physicians of appropriate next steps for patients with vascular disease,” he said. 

Dr. Saloner works on projects with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). He and his team have studied aneurysms and their progression using new techniques that provide clearer images. Dr. Saloner is interested in non-invasive imaging techniques that are able to observe the body over time. 

“What excites me is that we are able to develop the tools and insights that will help us make a strong impact on patient care,” said Dr. Saloner. “Without studies like ours and constant innovation in imaging, patients could get surgeries they don’t need, or perhaps not get surgeries that would be helpful.

“It has been particularly rewarding to make these improvements in patient care at the VA,” said Dr. Saloner. “First of all, the Veterans Administration itself has been generous, providing fantastic resources for us in research and imaging equipment like the 7T MRI, a highly-precise imaging technology that provides us with previously unavailable insights. 

“On-site, the staff is incredibly community-minded. Many of these patients rely solely on the VA for care, so we’ve come to recognize them, and everyone here wants to give back to those and all our veterans. We are continuously collaborating in the best interests of patients. Even though I am in radiology, I interact often with different departments and services such as Vascular Surgery and Cardiology.”


David Saloner, PhD, is a professor in residence in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, director of the Interventional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Center, and director of the Masters of Science Program at the University of California, San Francisco. He is also the director and founder of the Vascular Imaging Research Center at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Saloner obtained his BSc in Physics, Math, and Applied Math from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1972, and he completed a BSc in Theoretical Physics from the same institution. In 1975, he received his MSc in Nuclear Physics from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, followed by his Dr.rer.nat in Nuclear Physics from Karl-Ruprecht Universitaet in Heidelberg, West Germany in 1978. 

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