Dharmakumar Laboratory

Translational Cardiac Imaging Research


The Dharmakumar Laboratory is led by Rohan Dharmakumar, PhD, Associate Director of the Biomedical Imaging Research Institute. The mission of the program is to develop diagnostic and therapeutic strategies in the fight against cardiovascular diseases, using a multifaceted interdisciplinary approach. Employing noninvasive, leading-edge imaging methods, the program strives to create synergies in basic science research and build a rigorous scientific basis for rapid translation of preclinical findings to clinical patient care.


Ischemic heart disease, a class of diseases that stems from reduced oxygen supply to the heart muscle, is the most common cause of death in western countries. The focus of the program is to better understand ischemic heart disease using sophisticated imaging technologies, particularly MRI and PET.

Key areas of active research:

  • Imaging based interrogation of myocardial oxygenation
  • Cardiac stress testing with inhalational CO2
  • Noninvasive characterization of myocardial infarction
  • Post-infarction iron and its relation to cardiac arrhythmias
  • Myocardial bleeding and risk of heart failure
  • Magnetic targeting of therapeutic substrates
  • Integrated PET and MR imaging for ischemic heart disease

Key Research Achievements

Our group is the first to demonstrate that

  • acute reperfusion intramyocardial hemorrhage leads to chronic iron deposition, which mediates a prolonged and active inflammation period potentially mediating adverse ventricular remodeling and eventual heart failure
  • chronic iron deposition following infarction alters electrical activities in the heart
  • precisely targeted mild arterial CO2 can be a powerful coronary vasodilator as adenosine
  • size, location and transmurality of chronic myocardial infarction can be determined with high diagnostic accuracy without contrast agents
  • myocardial oxygenation in the heart varies across cardiac cycle, and such variations are uniquely modulated in disease

The Dharmakumar Laboratory is affiliated with the Biomedical Imaging Research Institute and Department of Biomedical Sciences.