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Richard Thompson, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Alberta

Areas of research:
Heart and lung imaging

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Phone nr: 780-492-8665

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1087 Research Transition Facility
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2V2


  • B.Sc. in Engineering Physics (1993), University of Alberta (Gold Medal)
  • Ph.D. in Medical Sciences (1999), University of Alberta
  • Fellow, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, 2000-2003
  • Joined U of A Faculty in 2004 (Department of Biomedical Engineering)

Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Imaging

My research program at the University of Alberta focuses on the development and translation of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the clinical evaluation of cardiovascular disease and the understanding of mechanisms in health and disease. The appeal of MRI for the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease lies in:

  • its excellent intrinsic soft tissue contrast and countless contrast mechanisms which allows for unparalleled tissue characterization
  • the ability to acquire images non-invasively in three dimensions with arbitrary image orientations.
  • the ability to collect these images with resolution of motion across the cardiac cycle, or to freeze cardiac motion.
For example, the sample cardiac MR images below illustrate excellent contrast between the blood and tissue in the heart to provide clear visualization of anatomy and mechanical function across the complete cardiac cycle.

Research areas of particular interest in my lab include:

Diseases of Interest

  • Myocardial Infarction
  • Heart Failure
  • Heart Transplantation
  • Chemotherapy Toxicity
  • Fabry Disease
  • Cirrhosis
  • Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Pulmonary Hypertension

Development of MRI Methods

  • Fast imaging of relaxation parameters (T1, T2, T2*) of the myocardium and blood for tissue characterization
  • Fat quantification
  • Quantification of myocardial mechanics (strain, velocity, ...)
  • Quantification of skeletal muscle function (oxygen extraction/consumption, perfusion)
  • Blood velocity imaging using phase-contrast (PC)-MRI (volumes, pressure gradients, visualization of complex flow patterns)

Research Support

I am extremely thankful for the financial support provided to my group from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), The University Hospital Foundation, The Women and Children's Health Research Institute and The Canadian Foundation for Innovation

Cardiovascular Research and Education at the University of Alberta

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in Canada and the United States which is reflected in the clinical and research environment at the University of Alberta. The Alberta Heart Institute (AHI) expanded the University of Alberta Hospitals cardiac surgery and heart transplant program, cardiology services, diagnostic testing (including a new cardiac catheterization lab), research and education. Separate from AHI is the Alberta Cardiovascular & Stroke Research Centre (ABACUS) is a translational research centre that supports multidisciplinary faculty to perform research aimed at the prevention, detection, and cure of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including stroke. The ABACUS Centre is adjoining the department of Peter S Allen MRI Research Centre, which houses three MRI scanners, all 100% dedicated to research. Cardiovascular research at the University of Alberta will involve collaborations between basic scientists and clinicians from all three Centres, with research topics ranging from the molecular level to clinical trials and population studies. A major province-wide research program for the study of heart failure, Alberta HEART, involves all three of these centers and similar centers at the University of Calgary, with cardiac MRI (and many other diagnostic and clinical tools) playing a major role in the program.

Recent Publications:

  • Cheng E , Mabee M , Swami VG , Pi Y , Thompson R , Dulai S , Jaremko JL. Ultrasound quantification of acetabular rounding in hip dysplasia: reliability and correlation to treatment decisions in a retrospective study. Ultrasound in medicine & biology. 41(1): 56-63 (2015).
  • Mathewson KW , Haykowsky MJ , Thompson RB. Feasibility and reproducibility of measurement of whole muscle blood flow, oxygen extraction, and VO2 with dynamic exercise using MRI. Magn Reson Med. 2014 Dec 22. doi: 10.1002/mrm.25564. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Swami VG, Cheng-Baron J, Hui C, Thompson RB, Jaremko JL. Reliability of 3d localisation of acl attachments on mri: Comparison using multi-planar 2d versus high-resolution 3d base sequences. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2014
  • Roujol S, Weingärtner S, Foppa M, Chow K, Kawaji K, Ngo LH, Kellman P, Manning WJ, Thompson RB, Nezafat R. Accuracy, precision, and reproducibility of four t1 mapping sequences: A head-to-head comparison of molli, shmolli, sasha, and sapphire. Radiology. 2014;272:683-689
  • Putko BN, Wen K, Thompson RB, Mullen J, Shanks M, Yogasundaram H, Sergi C, Oudit GY. Anderson-fabry cardiomyopathy: Prevalence, pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment. Heart Fail Rev. 2014
  • Putko BN, Wang Z, Lo J, Anderson T, Becher H, Dyck JR, Kassiri Z, Oudit GY, Investigators AH. Circulating levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha receptor 2 are increased in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction relative to heart failure with reduced ejection fraction: Evidence for a divergence in pathophysiology. PLoS One. 2014;9:e99495
  • Kutty S, Colen T, Thompson RB, Tham E, Li L, Vijarnsorn C, Polak A, Truong DT, Danford DA, Smallhorn JF, Khoo NS. Tricuspid regurgitation in hypoplastic left heart syndrome: Mechanistic insights from 3-dimensional echocardiography and relationship with outcomes. Circ Cardiovasc Imaging. 2014;7:765-772
  • Jaremko JL, Mabee M, Swami VG, Jamieson L, Chow K, Thompson RB. Potential for change in us diagnosis of hip dysplasia solely caused by changes in probe orientation: Patterns of alpha-angle variation revealed by using three-dimensional us. Radiology. 2014:140451
  • Ezekowitz JA, Becher H, Belenkie I, Clark AM, Duff HJ, Friedrich MG, Haykowsky MJ, Howlett JG, Kassiri Z, Kaul P, Kim DH, Knudtson ML, Light PE, Lopaschuk GD, McAlister FA, Noga ML, Oudit GY, Paterson DI, Quan H, Schulz R, Thompson RB, Weeks SG, Anderson TJ, Dyck JR. The alberta heart failure etiology and analysis research team (heart) study. BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2014;14:91
  • Butler CR, Kim DH, Chow K, Toma M, Thompson R, Mengel M, Haykowsky M, Pearson GJ, Paterson I. Cardiovascular mri predicts 5-year adverse clinical outcome in heart transplant recipients. Am J Transplant. 2014
  • Cheng-Baron, J, Chow K, Pagano JJ, Punithakumar K, Paterson DI, Oudit GY and Thompson RB. Quantification of Circumferential, Longitudinal and Radial Global Fractional Shortening (GFS) Using SSFP Cines: A Comparison with Tissue-Tracking Strain and Application in Fabry Disease. Accepted for publication in Magn Reson Med. Jan 04, 2014.
  • Chow K, Flewitt JA, Green JD, Pagano JJ, Friedrich MG, Thompson RB. Saturation recovery single-shot acquisition (SASHA) for myocardial T1 mapping. Magn Reson Med. 2013 Jul 23. doi: 10.1002/mrm.24878. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Huqi A, He A, Klas B, Paterson I, Thompson R, Irwin M, Ezekowitz J, Choy JB, Becher H. Myocardial deformation analysis in contrast echocardiography: first results using two-dimensional cardiac performance analysis. J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 2013 Nov;26(11):1282-9. doi: 10.1016/j.echo.2013.08.010. Epub 2013 Sep 14.
  • Shanks M, Thompson RB, Paterson ID, Putko B, Khan A, Chan A, Becher H, Oudit GY. Systolic and diastolic function assessment in fabry disease patients using speckle-tracking imaging and comparison with conventional echocardiographic measurements. J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 2013 Dec;26(12):1407-14. doi: 10.1016/j.echo.2013.09.005. Epub 2013 Oct 11.
  • Tham EB, Haykowsky MJ, Chow K, Spavor M, Kaneko S, Khoo NS, Pagano JJ, Mackie AS and Thompson RB. Diffuse myocardial fibrosis by T1-mapping in children with subclinical anthracycline cardiotoxicity: relationship to exercise capacity, cumulative dose and remodeling. J Cardiovasc Magn Reson. 2013; 15:48
  • Butler CR, Kumar A, Toma M, Thompson R, Chow K, Isaac D, Kim D, Haykowsky M, Friedrich MG, Paterson I. Late Gadolinium Enhancement in Cardiac Transplant Patients Is Associated With Adverse Ventricular Functional Parameters and Clinical Outcomes. Can J Cardiol. 2013; 29(9):1076-83
  • Solis LR, Twist E, Seres P, Thompson RB and Mushahwar VK. Prevention of Deep Tissue Injury through Muscle Contractions induced by Intermittent Electrical Stimulation after Spinal Cord Injury in Pigs. J Appl Physiol. 2013; 114(2):286-96
  • Takahashi K, Mackie AS, Thompson RB, Al-Naami G, Inage A, Rebeyka IM, Ross DB, Khoo N and Smallhorn JF. Real Time Three-dimensional Echocardiography Provides New Insight into the Mechanisms of Left Atrioventricular Valve Regurgitation Post-repair of Atrioventricular Septal Defect. J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 2012; 25(11):1231-44.
  • Solis LR, Liggins AB, Seres P, Uwiera RR, Poppe NR, Pehowich E, Thompson RB and Mushahwar VK. Distribution of Internal Strains Around Bony Prominences in Pigs. Ann Biomed Eng. 2012; 40(8):1721-39
  • Abazari A, Elliott JAW, McGann LE and Thompson RB. MR Spectroscopy Measurement of the Diffusion Of Dimethyl Sulfoxide In Articular Cartilage And Comparison To Theoretical Predictions, Osteoarthritis Cartilage. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2012; 20(9):1004-10.
  • Solis LR, Liggins A, Uwiera RRE, Poppe N, Pehowich E, Seres P, Thompson RB and Mushahwar VK. Distribution of internal pressure around bony prominences: implications to deep tissue injury and effectiveness of intermittent electrical stimulation. Ann Biomed Eng. 2012; 40(8):1740-59
  • Abazari A, Thompson RB, Elliott JAW and McGann LE, Transport phenomena in articular cartilage cryopreservation as predicted by the modified triphasic model and the effect of natural inhomogeneities. Biophys J. 2012; 102(6):1284-93
  • Thompson RB and Finlay WH. Using MRI to Measure Aerosol Deposition. J Aerosol Med Pulm Drug Deliv. 2012; 25(2):55-62.
  • Pituskin, E, haykowksy MH, Mackey JR, Thompson RB, Ezekowitz J, Koshman S, Oudit G, Chow K, Pagano JJ and Paterson DI. Rationale and design of the Multidisciplinary Approach to Novel Therapies in Cardiology Oncology Research Trial (MANTICORE 101 - Breast): a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to determine if conventional heart failure pharmacotherapy can prevent trastuzumab-mediated left ventricular remodeling among women with HER2+ early breast cancer using cardiac MRI. BMC Cancer. 2011; 11(1):318.
  • Kaila K, Haykowsky MH, Thompson RB Paterson DI. Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction in the Elderly: Scope of the Problem. Heart Fail Rev. 2012; 17(4-5):555-62
  • Nelson MD, Altamirano-Diaz LA, Petersen SR, Delorey DS, Stickland MK, Thompson RB, and Haykowsky MJ. Left ventricular systolic and diastolic function during tilt table positioning and passive heat stress in humans. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2011; 301(2):H599-608.
  • Tomczak CR, Thompson RB, Paterson DI, Schulte F, Cheng-Baron J, Haennel R and Haykowsky MH. Effect of Acute High-Intensity Interval Exercise on Post-Exercise Biventricular Function in Mild Heart Failure. J Appl Physiol. 2011; 110(2):398-406.
  • Solis LR, Gyawali S, Seres P, Curtis C, Chong SL, Thompson RB and Mushahwar VK. Effects of intermittent electrical stimulation on superficial pressure, tissue oxygenation, and discomfort levels for the prevention of deep tissue injury. Ann Biomed Eng. 2011; 39(2):649-63.
  • Gyawali S, Solis LR, Chong SL, Curtis C, Seres P, Kornelsen I, Thompson RB and Mushahwar VK. Intermittent electrical stimulation redistributes pressure and promotes tissue oxygenation in loaded muscles of individuals with spinal cord injury. J Appl Physiol. 2011; 110(1):246-55.
  • Nelson MD, Haykowsky MJ, Petersen SR, Delorey DS, Cheng-Baron J, Thompson RB. Aerobic fitness does not influence the biventricular response to whole-body passive heat stress. J Appl Physiol. 2010; 109(5):1545-51
  • Thompson RB, Paterson I, Chow K, Cheng-Baron J, Scott JM, Esch BT, Ennis DB and Haykowsky MJ. Characterization of the Relationship between Systolic Shear Strain and Early Diastolic Shear Strain Rates: Insights into Torsional Recoil. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2010; 299(3):H898-907.
  • Scott JM, Esch BT, Haykowsky MJ, Paterson I, Warburton DE, Chow K, Cheng-Baron J, Lopaschuk GD and Thompson RB. Effects of High Intensity Exercise on Biventricular Function Assessed by Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Endurance Trained and Normally Active Individuals. Am J Cardiol. 2010; 106(2):278-83.
  • Esch BT, Scott JM, Haykowsky MJ, Paterson I, Warburton DE, Cheng-Baron J, Chow K and Thompson RB. Changes in Ventricular Twist and Untwisting with Orthostatic Stress: Endurance Athletes versus Normally Active Individuals. J Appl Physiol. 2010; 108(5):1259-66.
  • Cheng-Baron J, Chow K, Khoo NS, Esch BT, Scott JM, Haykowsky MJ, Tyberg JV and Thompson RB. Measurements of changes in left ventricular volume, strain, and twist during isovolumic relaxation using MRI. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2010; 298(6):H1908-18.
  • Nelson MD, Haykowsky MJ, Petersen SR, Delorey DS, Cheng-Baron J, Thompson RB. Increased left ventricular twist, untwisting rates and suction maintain global diastolic function during passive heat stress in humans. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2010; 298(3):H930-37.
  • Takahashi K, Naami G, Thompson RB, Inage A, Mackie AS and Smallhorn JF. Normal rotational, torsion and untwisting data in children, adolescents and young adults.  J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 2010; 23(3):286-93.