Research Fellows and Graduate Students: Kevin J. Glaser, Ph.D.
What first inspired you to go into the field you're in?
A pre-med classmate of mine in the physics department at Gustavus Adolphus College told me about the field of biomedical engineering during our junior years. It sounded like an interesting area: work on technology with direct impact on the practice of medicine. However, at that time I still had my heart set on going into materials science. While doing an undergraduate fellowship at Gustavus during the summer before my senior year, I got a mailing from my high school biology teacher that there was a conference for middle school and high school science teachers in Rochester, Minnesota, that summer. I went to the conference and one of the keynote speakers was Dr. Richard Robb from Mayo Clinic. His talk included information about medical imaging, the Biomedical Imaging Resource group, the Mayo Graduate School, and the biomedical imaging track in the MGS. Intrigued, I decided to add Mayo to my graduate school application list, and after a favorable set of interviews and an early admission schedule, the rest is history.
What field/project are you currently working on?
I work in the Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research Lab as part of a team developing Magnetic Resonance Elastography (MRE). The technique is sometimes described as "palpation by imaging." The concept is rooted in the traditional medical practice of palpation in which a physician can detect abnormal changes in tissue (typically stiffness changes) indicative of a disease by feeling the tissue. Examples include breast cancer, thyroid cancer, and even liver cancers detected during surgery that were missed by conventional imaging methods. MRE is being developed to be a quantitative technique for measuring the mechanical properties of tissue in vivo to diagnose diseases, differentiate between healthy tissue and different disease states, and/or to improve the sensitivity and specificity of current diagnostic protocols. My current focus is on developing image acquisition and processing methods for MRE of the brain for possible applications in Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, hydrocephalus, and assessing the mass effect of brain tumors.
What has your experience been like in Rochester/Mayo Clinic or What are your other interests?
Since I was born and raised in Rochester, coming back to Rochester someday has always had its appeal. When I decided to make the transition from more generic physics to medical physics, I felt that being at Mayo Clinic in Rochester would be an optimal combination of cutting edge research with hometown feel. I have been fortunate to have this opportunity extended in the form of my current research fellowship position since graduating from the Mayo Graduate School. I was also fortunate to come back to Rochester shortly after the opening of the National Volleyball Center, which has allowed me to extend my brief collegiate volleyball career another 9+ years.
What would you like to do in the future (career or research specific)?
My professional fulfillment comes from developing tools and techniques to improve the greater good. In the context of my current career path, that is accomplished by developing methods that can be implemented in clinical practice to improve patient care. My goal is to continue to advance the fields of biomedical imaging and engineering through increased collaboration with various engineering and medical specialties.