Surbeck Laboratory

Margaret Hart Surbeck Laboratory for Advanced Imaging

The mission of the Surbeck Laboratory is to create an optimal environment for creating new imaging technologies that can be adapted for the broadest range of investigating disease, health, and treatment. Our overall objective is to contribute to the understanding of normal physiology and to elucidate the underlying biological mechanisms of health and disease. Critical factors that can be investigated through imaging are disease progression, the biological basis of different diseases, and response to treatment by individual patients. Translating these factors into bioengineering problems involves the integration of the underlying principles of MR physics with the design of new algorithms for reconstruction, post-processing and quantitative interpretation of the resulting multi-dimensional and multi-faceted imaging data, as well as the development of innovative RF coils and coil arrays for high-field imaging.

The Surbeck Gift

Margaret Hart SurbeckA gift in excess of $5 million commemorates the life and work of Margaret Hart Surbeck and promotes research in advanced imaging and human health at UCSF Mission Bay. 

The late Mrs. Surbeck’s will established INDNJC, Inc. (a non-profit corporation) to fund health-related research reflecting her lifelong interest in electromagnetic radiation. After conducting a nationwide search, the INDNJC board of directors selected UCSF as the best institution, and Professor Sarah Nelson as the distinguished researcher, to lead this effort. The result is the Surbeck Program in Advanced Imaging.

“Margaret Surbeck had a lifelong dream of using radio waves to improve the health of mankind. She would be pleased to learn that we now use electromagnetic radiation to produce internal images of immense diagnostic and investigative value,” says Reg Kelly, PhD, UCSF Executive Vice Chancellor. “This support will enable us to employ this technology to observe the processes of disease and hasten progress toward new therapies.”

Surbeck Annual Symposium

Surbeck Symposium 2016

UCSF's Margaret Hart Surbeck Laboratory and the INDNJC Board of Directors were proud to recognize three winning young investigators at the 10th Annual Surbeck Awards held at UCSF's Mission Bay Campus on March 11, 2016.  

First Place: Llewellyn ‘Trey’ Jalbert, PhD
Second Place: Robert Flavell, MD, PhD
Third Place: Chloe Najac, PhD

Surbeck Symposium 2016
(Left to Right) Richard Gowen, INDNJC Board President, Chair Ron Arenson MD, Third Place Awardee Chloe Najac, PhD, Vice-Chair, Bill Dillon, MD, First Place Awardee Llewellyn "Trey" Jalbert, PhD, Second Place Awardee Robert Flavell, MD, PhD, Surbeck Director Sarah Nelson, PhD and INDNJC Foundation Members Nancy Gowen and Sharon McCauley.

Surbeck Symposium 2015

First Place: Wei Bian, PhD
Second Place: Wenwen Jian (PhD Candidate)
Third Place: Valentina Pedoia, PhD

Surbeck Symposium 2015
Left-to-right: Nancy Gowen, Hal Lane, Wenwen Jiang, Wei Bian, PhD, Valentina Pedoiz, PhD, Sarah Nelson, PhD, and Dick Gowen, PhD (President of the INDNJC Board of Directors).

Surbeck Symposium 2014

Research done by the three young investigators honored with the 2014 Surbeck Awards. Aditi Guha, MS (first place), Marc Mabray, MD, accepting award for Akash Kansagra, MD (third place), and Christine Leon Swisher, MS (second place) presented their work at the seventh annual award ceremony on March 7, 2014 at UCSF Mission Bay’s Genentech Hall.

Surbeck Symposium 2014
Sarah Nelson, PhD, director of the Surbeck Laboratory and Richard Gowen, PhD, president of the INDNJC Foundation, which supports the awards, presented the awards.

Surbeck Symposium 2013

The move to more personalized medicine characterizes the research done by the four young investigators honored with the 2013 Surbeck Awards. Galen Reed, Myriam Chaumeil, PhD, Olga Tymofiyeva, PhD, and Gerd Melkus, PhD, presented their work at the seventh annual award ceremony on March 15, 2013 at UCSF Mission Bay’s Genentech Hall.

Sarah Nelson, PhD, director of the Surbeck Laboratory and Richard Gowen, PhD, president of the INDNJC Foundation, which supports the awards, presented the awards.

Surbeck Symposium 2013
Department Chair Ron L. Arenson, MD (back row, center) and Surbeck Laboratory faculty join INDNJC board members in congratulating the 2013 Surbeck award winners (front row, l-r) Galen Reed, Olga Tymofiyeva, PhD, Myriam Chaumeil, PhD and Gerd Melkus, PhD.

2012 Surbeck Young Investigator Award Winners

Five talented scholars earned awards at the sixth annual Surbeck Investigators Awards  presentation in 2012. They presented their work to an admiring audience in Genentech Hall, at an event moderated by Professor Sarah J. Nelson, PhD, director of the Surbeck Laboratory of Advanced Imaging and Richard Gowen, PhD, president of the INDNJC Foundation.

Surbeck Symposium 2012
2012 Surbeck Awardees: (l–r top row) Galen Reed, Simon Hu, PhD, Kayvan Keshari, PhD, (l–r bottom row) Ilwoo Park, PhD, Myriam M. Chaumeil, PhD.


Surbeck Resources7T and 3T Whole-Body MRI at Mission Bay

Investigation of human disease and therapeutic interventions in brain, prostate, musculoskeletal, and neurological systems with dedicated support staff to assist users in application development.

Surbeck Resources

Biomedical NMR Lab

Metabolic imaging and metabolic flux of hyperpolarized 13C-labelled agents, high-resolution microimaging at 14.1T,  detection and quantification of metabolites in intact tissue and fluids.

Surbeck ResourcesQuantitative Musculoskeletal Imaging

Bone architecture imaging, quantitative morphometry, HR-pQCT, fine element biomechanical analysis, cancer and biomaterials imaging, and archaeological specimens imaging.


Improved Gradients and RF System Stability

7T MR 950 Upgrade

The improvements in the gradient system will combine with a rf subsystem that is more stable and flexible to facilitate the translation of fast chemical shift imaging methods developed at UCSF at 3T to 7T. Previous attempts to do this have been unsuccessful due to baseline distortions that were traced to uncompensated variations in the gradient waveforms. Fast MRI and MRSI methods will improve ongoing studies of multiple sclerosis, brain tumor, and dementia, by significantly reducing the acquisition time for spectroscopic imaging data and so reducing the sensitivity to subject motion. They will also support future pre-clinical studies of hyperpolarized 13C compounds at 7T.

Gradient performance at higher field strengths suffers from a number of deficiencies due to greater strength and slew rate requirements to compensate higher chemical shift and susceptibility effects, as well as increased coil vibration due to higher Lorentz forces from the higher static field. In addition, reliance on fast imaging sequences often leads to a need for higher gradient duty cycles. The system upgrade described in this proposal addresses these problems through significant improvements in the design of the gradient coil and the gradient driver.

  1. The coil makes use of a far more efficient cooling system than the current generation of coils; heat extraction from the coil is roughly 25 kW, six times as efficient as the current design.
  2. Second, the driver control loop includes a feed-forward component that takes a model of the frequency-dependent coil impedance and so can compensate the interactions between the coil and the magnet.
  3. The higher current and voltage supplied by the driver, together with the increased cooling efficiency, will allow stable operation at higher duty cycles.



Surbeck EducationThe Masters of Science in Biomedical Imaging (MSBI) Program

The Masters of Science in Biomedical Imaging (MSBI) program is intended for students with Bachelors degrees, advanced pre-doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, residents, researchers and faculty members who wish to master biomedical imaging and research methods to enhance their research designs and broaden their investigative projects. The course can be completed in one year of full time study or two years of part time study.

Surbeck EducationUCSF & UCB Joint Graduate Program in Bioengineering

Through the Joint Graduate Program in Bioengineering with UC Berkeley, the Department of Radiology faculty participate in graduate student education and offer significant opportunities for PhD candidates in Bioengineering to participate in research activities. More than half of the faculty in the Joint Graduate Program hold appointments in Radiology and Biomedical Imaging.

Quantitative Biomedical Research - QB3

The California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research (QB3) is a partnership between UCSF, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz that was established to bring together the powerful quantitative tools of the physical sciences, engineering and mathematics to tackle complex biological problems.

The Institute involves more than 100 scientists housed in Byer’s Hall at the Mission Bay Campus in San Francisco, in a new building at UC Berkeley and in two new facilities at UC Santa Cruz. The QB3 Byers Hall building at Mission Bay has roughly 96,000 sq. ft. of space on five floors designed to house multi-department and multi-disciplinary laboratories, lecture halls, and shared scientific resources.

The center houses the Surbeck Advanced Imaging Laboratory which includes a 7T GE whole body scanner and a 3T research scanner, µCT, microscopy, computational and other facilities. There is an electronics shop, a machine shop and a server room that is dedicated to meet the heavy computational needs of the research programs in the building.

Surbeck Lab

Surbeck Lab People

Vice Chair, Research
Margaret Hart Surbeck Distinguished Professor
Professor and Vice Chair
Associate Professor
Associate Professor
Assoc Professor In Residence
Alexander R. Margulis Distinguished Professor and Chair
Professor and Chair
Associate Professor
Director, Body RIG
Assoc. Professor in Residence
Associate Professor
Associate Prof in Residence
Director, Advanced Imaging Technologies SRG