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Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Joseph A. Helpern, PhD


       Joseph A. Helpern, PhD


Dr. Helpern is internationally recognized for his research in the field of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) concentrating in the area of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. He has been working in the MRI field since its inception and was part of a small group of scientists at Henry Ford Hospital (HFH) who, in 1980, developed one of the largest and most powerful MRI systems to date. In 1988, Dr. Helpern was appointed the Director of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and in 1990, as the Principal Investigator (PI) of a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), his laboratory designed and installed the first version of the current state-of-the-art clinical 3 Tesla MRI system. Dr. Helpern moved to New York in 1994 to accept positions at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research as Chief of Medical Physics and Founding Director of the Center for Advanced Brain Imaging and Professor of Radiology, Psychiatry and Physiology and Neuroscience at New York University Medical Center (NYUMC). Then in 2001, he moved to NYUMC full time to become Vice Chairman for Research in the Department of Radiology and Founding Director of the Center for Biomedical Imaging. In 2003, as the PI of a $2MM grant from NIH, Dr. Helpern’s lab installed a 7 Tesla human MRI system at NYUMC, one of only a handful in the world. In 2010, Dr. Helpern moved to Charleston South Carolina where he is currently a tenured Professor and Vice Chairman for Research in the Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, Professor of Neuroscience and Founding Director of the Center for Biomedical Imaging at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Dr. Helpern’s current research involves the development of Diffusional Kurtosis Imaging, a novel MRI technique invented by his laboratory and licensed to Siemens Medical, that provides insight into the changes in brain tissue micro-architecture as a result of disease. Over the course of his career, Dr. Helpern has received multiple honors and awards including a Shannon Award from NIH (1992), the Excellence in Research Award from the New York State Office of Mental Health (2000), the Distinguished Investigator Award from the Academy of Radiology Research (2012) and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Oakland University. He is also a Fellow of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, holds an Endowed Chair in Brain Imaging and is the North American Editor for NMR in Biomedicine. Dr. Helpern has served on numerous NIH Study Sections, has co-authored over 130 journal articles and book chapters and has several patents in the field of MRI. He received his BA (’77) in Chemistry from Case Western Reserve University, his MA (’79) in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his PhD (’88) in Medical Physics from Oakland University.

       At the completion of this session, the participant will be able to:
       1.  Explain the basics of diffusion MRI.
2.  Discuss the theory of the relationship between complex brain function and complex microstructure.
3.  List the clinical applications of diffusion MRI.

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