Radiology Investigators Awarded NIH Diversity Supplements in 2022-23

The National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)

Faculty researchers in the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging have received six NIH diversity supplements over the past year, critical support for achieving our vision of a diverse and inclusive pipeline of innovative, high-performing imaging scientists. We are delighted to share overviews of their projects during Global Diversity Awareness Month and congratulate the PIs and trainees for their outstanding work.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) award supplemental funding to principal investigators (PIs) who are actively increasing diversity in the research workforce. As grantees, PIs provide clearly defined training, mentorship and career development opportunities to underrepresented minority trainees in health-related sciences, those who are from rural or disadvantaged backgrounds, and individuals with disabilities. 

2023 NIH Diversity Supplement PIs and Trainees

Richard Souza PhD, PT, and Sharmila Majumdar, PhD, received two diversity supplements in 2023. 

Hector Mendez, a PhD student in the UCSF/ UC Berkeley Joint Program in Bioengineering, is contributing to Simultaneous Imaging of Tissue Biochemistry and Metabolism associated with Biomechanics in Patella Femoral Joint Osteoarthritis. Mendez is working on a longitudinal cohort study of the cross-sectional relationships between bone and cartilage imaging biomarkers, investigating how the patterns of interactions are mediated by gait biomechanics and bone morphology. Mendez has expertise in technology innovations in movement science using recent advancements in mobile technology and machine learning; he is based in Souza’s lab in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science.

Joshua Johnson, BA, is working with Souza and Majumdar on their project Structural, Biochemical and Functional Connectivity in Osteoarthritis using Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Skeletal Biomechanics. Johnson assists patients with varying gait analysis tasks, conducts functional assessments and strength assessments, and assists with data processing to identify abnormalities or differences in an individual's movement pattern. This work aims to better understand the progression of osteoarthritis and help determine what movement patterns or lifestyle choices impact disease progression. As a member of Souza’s lab, Johnson’s long-term research interest is mitigating age-related diseases by improving metabolic flexibility.

Jane Wang, MD, and Peder Larson, PhD, received a supplement for Ernesto Diaz, BS for Translating Hyperpolarized 13C Metabolic MRI to Predict Renal Tumor Aggressiveness. Diaz, the first in his family to graduate college, earned a BS in computer science from San Francisco State University and is now developing computational tools at UCSF for more accurate characterization of cancer metabolism using hyperpolarized carbon-13 MRI. Applying this imaging method to renal tumors addresses an unmet need for noninvasive predictors of tumor aggressiveness. This will enable better cancer risk stratification and aid future management of renal tumor patients by reducing overdiagnosis and treatment of indolent tumors while enabling early detection of aggressive renal cancers that require timely surgery.

Peder Larson, PhD, and Renuka Sriram, PhD, received funding for Avantika Sinha, MS, to contribute to Co-Clinical Quantitative Imaging of Small Cell Neuroendocrine Prostate Cancer Using Hyperpolarized 13C MRI. Sinha will be working on the establishment of an online resource of quantitative HP 13C MRI protocols, data analyses tools, and correlative biology data allowing for a consensus on how quantitative HP 13C MRI can be used in co-clinical imaging trials to improve the assessment of therapeutic response and resistance. While this project focuses on advanced prostate cancer, these new quantitative metabolic imaging techniques could ultimately benefit the clinical management of other cancers and diseases. 

From March 2022 through February 2023, Dan Vigneron, PhD, and Jeremy Gordon, PhD, funded work by Daniel Gebrezgiabhier, PhD candidate, on their project Development and Translation of Hyperpolarized C-13 Prostate Cancer MRI Methods. From September 2023 through August 2024, Gebrezgiabhier has continued supplement funding to work with mentor Vigneron on New Hardware and Software Developments for Improving Prostate Metabolic MR Imaging

2022 NIH Diversity Supplement PIs and Trainees

From August 2022 through July 2023, Majumdar’s project Technology Research Site for Advanced, Faster Quantitative Imaging for BACPAC funded work by Alex Beltran, MS and Aniket Tolpadi, PhD.