Rochester, Minnesota




Lesion stiffness has been recognized as an important factor in differentiating between malignant and benign masses. Tissue motion, which is a function of tissue stiffness, is used to produce high-resolution, high-contrast and speckle-free images. Azra Alizad, M.D., is interested in medical applications of ultrasound radiation force, including imaging, characterization of biological materials and evaluation of tissue viscoelasticity.

Dr. Alizad is the principal investigator of five extramurally funded grants, including two R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and is a co-investigator on four other R01 grants.

Focus areas

  • Breast cancer imaging. Dr. Alizad works on medical application of the newly invented acoustic imaging modality, vibro-acoustography (VA), on human breast tissue. She and her colleagues have demonstrated that VA can be used in vivo for breast cancer detection. Such VA images show malignant lesions with rough textures, the presence of spiculations and microcalcifications.
  • Characterization of breast masses. Material properties of breast tissues change with disease. Therefore, characterizing breast masses is important in breast cancer detection. Dr. Alizad is applying a new ultrasound-based shear wave technology to characterize breast masses. Her research using combined acoustic imaging and shear wave technology on breast tissue is supported by the National Institutes of Health.
  • Thyroid cancer imaging. Improved methods for thyroid nodule differentiation are required to effectively and appropriately select suspected nodules for biopsy. Dr. Alizad is interested in application of the VA modality for thyroid nodule imaging. She is investigating the use of VA as an alternative tool to provide supplementary information to other existing imaging modalities.
  • Characterization of thyroid nodules. Pre-biopsy assessment of thyroid nodules is a critical step in selection of lesions to be biopsied. Dr. Alizad works to characterize thyroid nodules by using an ultrasound tool to measure elasticity and viscosity as well as 2-D shear wave imaging.
  • Quantitative assessment of infant bone by ultrasound. Dr. Alizad is working to develop a new, noninvasive quantitative ultrasound (QUS) method for bone health monitoring in infants and, in particular, for identification of risk groups and management of the necessary therapy.

Significance to patient care

The successful completion of Dr. Alizad's NIH-supported research project on human breast tissue using information collected via acoustic imaging and shear wave technology will lead to noninvasive ultrasound tools for improving the specificity of breast cancer detection and the monitoring of breast cancer response to chemotherapy.

The successful completion of Dr. Alizad's NIH-funded research project on using multispectral imaging for thyroid patients will open the way for a new class of diagnostic tools for thyroid evaluation and reduce unnecessary biopsies.

The successful completion of Dr. Alizad's research project on the development of a noninvasive QUS technique will have significant impact on osteopenia of prematurity and other pathologic conditions in infant bone.

Professional highlights

  • Chartered standing member, Medical Imaging Study Section, National Institutes of Health, 2014-2018
  • Elected fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, 2014; American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, 2012
  • Associate editor, Ultrasonic Imaging journal, 2013-present
  • Member, awards committee, Minorities in Cancer Research (MICR), American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), 2012-present
  • Member, MICR, 2009-present; Women In Cancer Research (WICR), 2004-present; AACR, 2003-present
  • Editorial board, The Open Acoustics Journal, 2007-present


See my publications


Academic Rank

  1. Associate Professor of Medicine
  2. Professor of Biomedical Engineering


  1. Fellow - Pediatric Infectious Diseases Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Children's Medical Center Hospital
  2. Resident - Pediatrics Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Children's Medical Center Hospital
  3. MD Tehran University Medical School

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