Surbeck Scholars Receive High Honors for Outstanding Research


Three young investigators working in the Margaret Hart Surbeck Laboratory were honored for their outstanding research at the 8th Annual Surbeck Awards on March 7, 2014 at UCSF. The Director of the Surbeck Laboratory, Sarah J. Nelson, PhD, and the Director of the INDNJC Board supporting the Surbeck Laboratory, Richard Gowen, PhD, welcomed UCSF’s scientific community to the research presentations and award ceremony. Attendees enjoyed research presentations showcasing the work of each winning scholar, Aditi Guha, MS, Christine Leon Swisher, MS, and Akash Kansagra, MD.

Aditi Guha, MS, was the first place award recipient for her abstract “Feasibility of a Stimulated Echo Based Diffusion Sequence for Early Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis”, with co-authors Cory Wyatt, PhD, Dimitrios Karampinos, Lorenzo Nardo, MD, Thomas Link, MD, PhD and Sharmila Majumdar, PhD. “Aditi is an excellent researcher” noted her mentor, Vice-Chair of Research Sharmila Majumdar, PhD. “Following Aditi’s training in the UCSF Masters of Science in Biomedical Imaging Program from 2011-2012, we were very fortunate that she chose to remain at UCSF and pursue research in the field of osteoarthritis."

Christine Leon Swisher, MS, earned Surbeck’s second place award for “Localized, Non-invasive In Vivo Measurement of Enzymatic Activity using MAD-STEAM Hyperpolarized Carbon-13 MR Spectroscopic Imaging” with co-authors Peder Larson, PhD, Robert Bok, PhD, Justin Delos Santos, Romelyn Delos Santos, Adam Kerr, John Pauly, PhD, Sarah Nelson, PhD, John Kurhanewicz, PhD, and Daniel Vigneron, PhD. Leon Swisher is a PhD candidate in the laboratory led by Daniel Vigneron, PhD in the UCB-UCSF Graduate Program in Bioengineering. She received concurrent BS and MS degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Arizona State University prior to coming to UCSF.

“Christine Leon Swisher has developed remarkable new MRI techniques to measure the rate constants of cell metabolism with an unprecedented accuracy” commented her mentor Daniel Vigneron, PhD. “This work enables measuring cellular biochemistry in living beings to detect the presence and aggressiveness of diseases like cancer and also to monitor the response to treatment; all with safe, non-invasive imaging.”

Akash Kansagra, MD was the recipient of Surbeck’s third award for his authorship on “Microstructural Maturation of White Matter Tracts in the Neonatal Brain using NODDI” with co-authors Marc Mabray, MD, Donna Ferriero, MD, A. James Barkovich, MD, Duan Xu, PhD and Christopher Hess, MD, PhD. His mentor, Christopher Hess, MD, PhD, praised Kansagra’s “scientific pursuits in developing computational approaches to addressing problems in brain imaging.” Kansagra has been a resident in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging since 2010, and currently serves as Chief Resident. He is also an NIH T32 fellow in the department. Kansagra completed undergraduate and graduate training in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of California, Irvine, respectively, followed by medical school and a one-year surgical internship at the University of California, San Diego. His research interests encompass the development of novel MR imaging methods for neuroradiological applications and clinical informatics tools. Kansagra plans to continue his training in diagnostic and interventional neuroradiology.

The Margaret Hart Surbeck Laboratory of Advanced Imaging is dedicated to advancing imaging techniques for biological and medical applications. Surbeck Laboratory was endowed in 2002 by the INDNJC Foundation, established after the death of Margaret Hart Surbeck in 2000 to fund health-related research. The Surbeck Young Investigator Awards are funded through the INDNJC Foundation.