Robert Thomen, PhD


MRI is one of the most elegant imaging modalities in medicine, but it is notoriously insensitive when it comes to imaging lungs. For this reason, chest x-ray and CT are the champions of lung imaging, but even these can only provide anatomic density maps of pulmonary structure. In order to measure lung function, pulmonary function tests (PFTs) are used clinically in spite of their low sensitivity. Hyperpolarized gas MRI is an emerging technique which can quantify lung function with great sensitivity. We use hyperpolarized gases to quantify regional ventilation patterns within the lung, investigate alveolar gas exchange properties, and even measure alveolar dimensions in myriad lung diseases such as asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, IPF, and others. The unmatched sensitivity of hyperpolarized gases to lung function has led several research institutions to collaborate in clinical trials in order to accelerate its clinical adoption and improve patient outcomes.

Academic Information

Assistant Professor


M210P Medical Sciences Building
Columbia, MO 65212
United States

Research Interests

  • Hyperpolarized Gases
  • Pulmonary Imaging
  • MRI Physics

Areas of Expertise

  • Imaging Physics
  • MRI Pulse Sequence Development

Education & Training

Post-Graduate School

Cincinnati Children's Hospital


PhD, Washington University in St Louis
MS, Creighton University


BS, Creighton University


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