New Role at BIC: Brad Sutton

Brad Sutton has been named technical director of the Biomedical Imaging Center to assist with the recent surge in activity and the new MRI scanner at the center.

The Biomedical Imaging Center (BIC) at the Beckman Institute has seen a lot of changes recently, including bringing in another 3 Tesla Trio full-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. With this new machine and many new projects starting, BIC is busier than ever before. To help maintain the workflow and ensure users are getting the best data possible, Brad Sutton has been hired as a technical director.

Sutton started working as a research scientist for BIC in 2003. In 2006, he became a faculty member in the Bioengineering Department, and created an independent research program centered around the imaging technologies at BIC. Now, 10 years later, he’s returning to play a larger role in the future of BIC. 

“I never really got far from BIC. My research focuses on developing technology for imaging physiology of the brain that hasn’t been imaged before in order to better understand how the brain works,” Sutton said. “A lot of my research uses the machines at BIC, and I’ve also been helping with technical aspects ever since I got here.”

Sutton’s lab focuses on trying to increase the speed at which MRI images are reconstructed from data, while also improving the quality of the image. They’re specifically looking at ways to measure new aspects of brain physiology, like looking at blood flow within the vessels of the brain, or getting a high-resolution map of how neurons are connected together. 

“As technical director, I’ll be doing much of the same thing—handling technical aspects of a lot of different machines, while also trying to push the technological capabilities of the center to enable our users to ask scientific questions they can’t currently ask, or didn’t know they could ask, such as ‘How does stiffness of the brain change with age?’ ”

The center offers a host of imaging modalities, including two full-body MRI scanners, a SPECT/PET/CT scanner, the Diffuse Optical Imaging Laboratory, ultrasound capabilities, and a 600 MHz Varian MR System. 

“We already have scientists associated with each machine,” Sutton said, “and they do a great job of ensuring that the best data comes out, so I’ll make sure things continue to go well, and then see in what ways we can prepare ourselves for the future, to keep improving, and to continue to be a place that enables the great science that goes on at the Beckman Institute.”  

This article is part of the Spring 2014 Synergy Issue, a publication of the Communications Office of the Beckman Institute.