Maria I Altbach, PhD

Associate Professor of Radiology

UACC Information

UACC Organizational Unit: 
Professional Bio: 

Dr. Albach’s expertise is in the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques. Her research group develops novel MRI acquisition and reconstruction strategies and works closely with investigators in the University of Arizona Cancer Center to develop better and more efficient techniques aimed at improving the diagnosis of disease and the outcomes of clinical trials. One of the major goals is to be able to quantitative maps non-invasively from data acquired within the time constraints of a clinical MRI examination.

For many years Dr. Altbach has directed a group that covers many areas of basic science to bring new concepts to applications relevant to cancer.Her group has developed the radial GRASE acquisition strategy and reconstruction methods that are used in three NIH funded breast chemo-prevention clinical trials (R01 CA161534 - PI: Chalasani; R01CA172444 – PI: Chow; R01CA149417 – PI: Thomson). The radial GRASE technique and the novel MRWave technique (recently developed by our group for detecting structural changes in the liver due to hepatic fibrosis) are the main imaging components in one of the proposed SPORE projects aimed at assessing disease progression from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Research Information

Research Program: 
Cancer Imaging
Member Status: 
Research Member
Summary of Research Activity: 

Dr. Altbach’s research group is focused on the development of novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques for improving the diagnosis of disease. Working closely with clinicians her group develops novel acquisition and reconstruction strategies to improve the diagnosis of heart disease and cancer. One of the major goals is to be able to derive parameters for the classifications of small tumors from data acquired in a short period of time for patient comfort. The idea is to complement the current qualitative-approach of clinical radiology with a quantitative or “parametric” approach which should improve the accuracy in diagnosis and reduce the time that a patient has to spent in the magnet.

Selected Publications: 

Dr. Altbach's NCBI bibliography

  1. Altbach MI, “A radial magnetic resonance imaging method for imaging abdominal neoplasms”, Methods of Cancer Diagnosis, Therapy, and Prognosis" Volume 3, 2009 edited by M.A. Hayat and published by Springer.
  2. Li Z, Gmitro AF, Squire SW, Bilgin A, Graff C, Outwater EK, and Altbach MI. Rapid Water and Lipid Imaging with T2 Mapping Using a Radial IDEAL-GRASE Technique Magn Reson Med, 0000, 2009.
  3. Bilgin A, Kim Y, Lalgudia HG, Trouard TP, Altbach MI, “Parallel Magnetic Resonance Imaging Using Compressed Sensing” , Proc. SPIE, Vol. 7073, 70731G, 2008.
  4. Sorrell VL, Altbach MI, Panczyk E, Attaran R, Ata I, Bilgin A, Habibzadeh M. Lipomatous Hypertrophy of the Interatrial Septum (LHIAS).
  5. Altbach MI, Bilgin A, Ata I, Sorrell VL, “A double-inversion radial FSE and GRASE methods for the evaluation of cardiac masses”. J Cardiovascular Magn Reson 2008, 10(Suppl 1) :A209doi
  6. Sorrell VL, Bhatt RD, Berg RA, Squire S, Kudithipudi V, Hilwig RW, Altbach MI, Kern KB, Ewy GA. Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging Investigation of Sustained Ventricular Fibrillation in a Swine Model-with a Focus on the Electrical Phase. Resuscitation, 2007.
  7. Li Z, Gmitro AF, Bilgin A, and Altbach MI. Fast Decomposition of Water and Lipid Using a GRASE Technique with the IDEAL Algorithm Magn Reson Med 57:1047–1057, 2007.
  8. Sorrell VL. Altbach MI. Kudithipudi V. Squire SW. Goldberg SJ. Klewer SE. Cardiac MRI is an important complementary tool to Doppler echocardiography in the management of patients with pulmonary regurgitation. Echocardiography (Guest Editorial, Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Special Edition) 24:316-28, 2007.
  9. Altbach MI. Squire SW. Kudithipudi V. Castellano L. Sorrell VL. Cardiac MRI is complementary to echocardiography in the assessment of cardiac masses. [Review] [73 refs] Echocardiography (Guest Editorial, Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Special Edition). 24:286-300, 2007.
  10. Altbach MI, Li Z, Bilgin A, Marcus FI, Sorrell VL, Gmitro AF, Bluemke DA. “Interleaved Acquisition of Lipid and Water Images of the Heart Using a Double-Inversion Fast Spin-Echo Method.” Magn Reson Med 54:1562–1568, 2005.
  11. Sorrell VL, Altbach MI, Kern KB, Squire SW, Hilwig RW, Hayes MH, Ewy GA, Berg RA. “Continuous Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging during Untreated Ventricular Fibrillation.” Circulation, 2005; 111: e294.
  12. Altbach MI, Bilgin A, Li Z, Clarkson EW, Gmitro AF. Processing of Radial Fast-spin Echo Data for Obtaining T2 Estimates from a Single K-Space Data Set. Magn Reson Med 54:549–559, 2005.
  13. Gmitro AF, Kono M, Theilmann RJ, Altbach MI, Trouard TP. Radial Acquisition of Data (RAD) GRASE: Implementation and Clinical Applications. Magn Reson Med 53, 1363-1371, 2005.
  14. Sarlls J, Newbould R, Altbach MI, Gmitro AF, Seeger J, Trouard TP. Isotropic Diffusion Weighting in radial Fast Spin Echo (Radial-FSE) MRI. Magn Reson Med, 53, 1347-1354, 2005.
  15. Berg RA, Sorrell V, Kern KB, Hilwig RW, Altbach MI, Hayes MH, Bates KB, Ewy GA. “Magnetic Resonance Imaging during Untreated Ventricular Fibrillation Reveals Prompt Right Ventricular Overdistention without Left Ventricular Volume Loss”, Circulation 2005;111:1136-1140.
  16. Altbach MI, Li Z, Bilgin A, Marcus FI, Trouard TP, Gmitro AF. “A Novel Radial MRI Technique for Obtaining High-resolution Images of the Heart with Variable Contrast from a Single k-Space Data Set”, J Cardiovasc Magn Reson, 6, 91-2, 2004.
  17. Bilgin A, Marcellin M, Altbach MI. "Compression of Electrocardiogram Signals using JPEG2000". IEEE Trans Consumer Electronics, 49, 833-40, 2003.
  18. Theilmann RJ, Gmitro AF, Altbach MI, Trouard TP. “View Ordering in Radial Fast Spin-Echo Imaging”, Magn Reson Med, 51, 768-774, 2004.
  19. Altbach, M.I., Outwater, E.K., Trouard, T.P., Krupinski, E.A., Theilmann, R.J., Stopeck, A.T., Kono, M., Gmitro, A. F., “A radial fast spin-echo method for T2-weighted Imaging and T2 Mapping of the Liver”, J. Magn. Reson. Imaging, 16, 179-89, 2002.
  20. Altbach, M.I., Trouard, T.P., Van de Walle, R., Theilmann RJ., Clarkson E. Barrett, H.H., Gmitro, A. F., “Chemical shift imaging utilizing the positional shifts along the readout gradient direction” IEEE Trans. Med. Imaging, 20, 1156-66, 2001.
  21. Van de Walle, R., Barrett, H. H., Myers, K. J., Altbach, M. I., Desplanques, B., Gmitro, A.F., Cornelis, J., Lemahieu, I., “Reconstruction of MR images from data acquired on a general non-regular grid by pseudoinverse calculation” IEEE Trans. Med. Imaging, 19, 1160-7, 2000.
  22. Galons, J.P., Altbach, M.I., Payne-Murietta, G., Taylor, C.W., Gillies, R.J., “Chemotherapeutic response in Human Xenografts monitored by diffusion-weighted MRI”, Neoplasia, 1, 113-17, 1999.

Professional Information

Positions and Honors: 
Comprehensive Member of the Arizona Cancer Center
Sarver Heart Center, University of Arizona
NIH Career Development Award, National Heart Lung and Blood   Institute
Philip Foundation Fellowship Award
Honorary Chemical Society Phi Lambda Upsilon
Other Experience and Professional Memberships/Affiliations: 
International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine
Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance
Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers

Academic Information

Louisiana State University, 1988
Undergraduate School: 
B.S., Universidad Catolica del Peru, 1983