Vanderbilt University
Institute of Imaging Science
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Undergraduate Education and Training Programs

Courses

  • BME 258 (Introduction to Medical Imaging)
  • BME 276 (Biological Basis of Imaging)
  • BME 277 (Quantitative and Functional Imaging)
  • *Note that BME 258 or a similar course is a prerequisite to BME 276 and 277

Formal Education Opportunities

Several courses are taught regularly as part of the undergraduate program in Biomedical Engineering. These include Introduction to Medical Imaging, Biological Basis of Imaging, and Quantitative and Functional Imaging. In addition, VUIIS faculty with appointments in the School of Engineering sometimes define senior design projects.

Research Experiences

Undergraduate students can obtain research experience at the VUIIS through a variety of mechanisms. Regardless of the mechanism, an interested student would be best served by reviewing the VUIIS faculty research interests, identifying projects that sound interesting, and then approaching the appropriate faculty member. An email inquiry or telephone call to arrange an appointment is the first step in this process.

After meeting with a VUIIS faculty member and agreeing upon a suitable project, students interested in obtaining course credit may do so by registering for an appropriate independent study course through their home department. For example, BME students can register for BME 240a-240b (Undergraduate Research in BME). Ideally, this would be arranged in the early-to-middle part of the semester preceding that in which the student wishes to obtain credit.

There are also several mechanisms through which students can be paid for their work. First, faculty members who hold a research project grant may have funds available to pay a student directly from that grant. Also, there are both University-wide and School-specific summer research programs that provide opportunities for full-time summer research experiences and a stipend. These include the Vanderbilt University Summer Research Program and, for Engineering students, the VUSE Summer Undergraduate Research Program. Applications for these competitive programs are typically due in February of each year; however, interested students are advised to contact potential VUIIS faculty advisors well before the application deadline in order to allow sufficient time to prepare the application, and because faculty are limited in the number of students whom they are allowed to sponsor.

Graduate Education and Training Programs

Courses

Core Curriculum
  • BME 258 (Introduction to Medical Imaging) or Physics and Astronomy 228 (Physics of Medical Imaging)
  • BME 276 (Biological Basis of Imaging)
  • BME 277 (Quantitative and Functional Imaging)
  • BME 395 (Special Topics: Mathematical Methods in Imaging), Physics and Astronomy 308 (Mathematical Methods for Physicists), or BME 301 (Quantitative Methods in Biomedical Engineering)
Specialized areas
  • BME 330 (Cancer Imaging)
  • BME 331 (Neuroimaging)
  • BME 395 (Special Topics: Advanced NMR Methods)
  • BME 395 (Special Topics: Cellular and Molecular Imaging)
  • EE 253 (Image Processing)
  • EE 357 (Advanced Image Processing)

Formal Education Opportunities

Graduate training in imaging science is available through several of the University's academic departments and programs. On the main campus, there are students enrolled in degree programs in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Physics and Astronomy, and Neuroscience who are being advised by VUIIS faculty. In the medical center, there are students enrolled in the Chemical and Physical Biology PhD Program who are being advised by VUIIS faculty. There are also many graduate students in other main university or medical center departments who, while not pursuing graduate education in imaging science per se, use imaging and spectroscopic methods in order to answer fundamental questions in Psychology, Physiology, and other disciplines.

Informal Education Opportunities

The VUIIS sponsors a number of informational educational opportunities. These include:
  • Journal and data clubs:Currently, there are journal clubs that focus on Cellular and Molecular Imaging, Metabolic Imaging, Molecular Probe Development, Cancer Imaging, Diffusion Tensor Imaging, Psychiatric Neuroimaging/VUIIS Functional MRI Methods, human MRI/MRS Pulse Programming, and 7T MRI/MRS.
  • VUIIS Weekly Research Seminar: The VUIIS sponsors a research seminar that meets on Friday of each week. This provides an outstanding venue for trainees to give progress reports on their research and hear full research presentations from VUIIS faculty and distinguished external speakers. Attendance at this seminar is expected for all VUIIS trainees.
  • VUIIS Annual Research Retreat: The retreat occurs in the spring or early summer of each year. All VUIIS personnel attend this 3 day/2 night event and present progress reports and plans for the upcoming year. The retreat is held in another city; past retreats have taken place in Chattanooga, Memphis, Louisville, Huntsville, Knoxville, and Birmingham. The 2011 retreat will occur on July 15-17 in Louisville, KY.
  • VUIIS Scientific Communication Seminars: In this seminar series, we explore scientific communication, a key component of the scientific process linking an idea to a published result: from formulating, describing, and defending a research plan; to communicating results in talks, posters, and journal articles. The seminar is taught coincidentally with CPB 315/316.
  • VUIIS Career Development Series: The aim of this class series is to provide education in non-academic topics that are critical to success in the sciences and engineering. Previous topics have included "Giving Effective Oral Presentations About Science,” “Finding a Job in Academia,”, “Professional Expectations in the Academic Environment,” and “Federal Funding 101.” Suggestions for future topics may be sent to Bruce Damon.

Research Training

The hallmark of graduate education is research training. The more than 20 core VUIIS faculty members represent a broad spectrum of interests within imaging science, including understanding the fundamental physical and chemical interactions of biological tissues with the energy that allows imaging and produces contrast; the development of new imaging methods (such as MRI pulse sequences or approaches to image analysis) that result in novel sources of contrast; the development of molecular imaging contrast agents for understanding cellular and molecular physiology; hardware engineering for imaging; imaging applications in applied physiology and clinical studies; new image processing methods; and more. Their activities are supported by more than 25 NIH research project grants and similar awards, totaling more than 10 million dollars in annual direct research funds.

Support for graduate students comes from three sources

  • Regular research grants such as those described above
  • Teaching assistantships provided by the home departments
  • Training grants. The Radiology Department has been awarded an institutional training grant from the National Cancer Institute that provides two years of support for six exemplary incoming graduate students. This allows them to obtain broad-based education and training in a wide variety of imaging approaches. After the two-year support period ends, they are typically supported by a regular research grant. Depending on the student's research question, support may be available from one of Vanderbilt's other training grants; also, eligible graduate students are encouraged to apply for individual NIH training grants. Note that federally sponsored training grants are typically available only to US citizens and permanent residents.

Campus Resources to Support Graduate Education

There are a wide range of professional development activities for graduate students at VU, both at the main campus and at VUMC. On the main campus, these activities are coordinated by the Graduate Student Professional and Personal Development (GSPPD) Collaborative. This program describes itself as "an informal network of faculty, administrators, and students at Vanderbilt University that seeks to facilitate the awareness and use of the many programs that can help students become productive and well-rounded scholars." Their activities include acting as a clearinghouse for campus activities for supporting graduate students, announcing funding opportunities, and sponsoring and advertising workshops and other events. The Office of Biomedical Research Education and Training (BRET) provides similar activities on the medical center side of campus. Other campus resources include:
  • Gender-Related Issues: The Margaret Cuninggim Women's Center sponsors programs for students of each gender related to women's issues. They also coordinate a dissertation support group for women. The Society for Women Engineers has a chapter at Vanderbilt. The Women on Track program aims to advance the careers of women in science by promoting the advancement and retention of female tenure-track faculty, providing mentorship for female junior faculty, and creating an infrastructure for internal promotion from the house staff and post-doctoral levels.
  • The VU Psychological and Counseling Center provides individual and group counseling, assessment, and organizational consulting.
  • Career Services include the Vanderbilt Career Center and the BRET Office of Career Development and Outcomes Analysis, each of which lists available positions. Other resources include workshops, seminars, and alumni networking.
  • Writing and Language Support Services, including the Vanderbilt English Language Center and the Vanderbilt Editors' Club, which is sponsored by BRET.
  • Services for International Students are coordinated by the International Students and Scholars Services office.
  • The Graduate Student Council, which includes student delegates from the academic departments and programs. The council 1) coordinates academic and social programs for graduate students, and 2) acts as a communication conduit between students and the Graduate College.

Post-doctorial Education and Training Programs

Formal and Informal Education Opportunities

Post-doctoral fellows at the VUIIS benefit from the same outstanding training environment and formal educational opportunities as graduate students (post-doctoral fellows are able to audit one course per semester, for a nominal fee). In addition, we anticipate that they will participate in one or more journal clubs, attend the VUIIS retreat, and attend and speak in the VUIIS seminar series. These programs are fully described under Graduate Education and Training Opportunities, above.

Working at VUIIS

Post-doctoral fellows at the VUIIS typically attend and present at one or more major international meetings per year and attain a high level of scholarship and productivity. The starting salary for fellows is well above the standard NIH rate, and fellows enjoy living in a medium-sized city with a broad range of cultural and recreational opportunities and a reasonable cost of living. Our previous fellows have gone on to assume tenure-track faculty positions at Vanderbilt and elsewhere, as well as positions in the biomedical imaging and pharmaceutical industries.

Campus Resources to Support Post-doctorial Fellow

The Medical Center's Office of Biomedical Research Education and Training (BRET) coordinates many aspects of post-doctoral training at Vanderbilt, including a large number of career development opportunities. Within the BRET program is the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. The mission of this office is to support and assist postdoctoral fellows during their training at Vanderbilt. The types of information listed include:
  • Policy and Procedures, including several documents on VUMC policies concerning status, salary, evaluation of performance, and mentor responsibilities. Also available is "The Compact Between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors," a document outlining the postdoctoral appointee-mentor relationship;
  • Professional Development, including funding opportunities, the BRET seminar series, job resources, and grant writing support;
  • Events, such as weekly seminars on research and career development topics, workshops, and social gatherings;
  • Support Services, such as information on taxes, benefits, salaries and stipends, health insurance, career counseling, and relocation; and
  • The Individualized Development Plan: The IDP is one means of communicating progress, goals, career aspirations, and training needs between post-docs and their mentors and is required on an annual basis.
Other VUMC programs for postdoctoral fellows include:
  • VUMC Postdoctoral Association: The aim of this association is to unite postdoctoral research fellows from basic science and clinical departments. The organization has activities ranging from social interactions, practice seminars, and career preparation training. In addition to these activities, the association strives to provide information and a sounding board for complaints and concerns to other postdoctoral associates. This group meets once a month on campus.
  • Gender-Related Issues: The Margaret Cuninggim Women's Center sponsors programs for students of each gender related to women's issues. They also coordinate a dissertation support group for women. The Society for Women Engineers has a chapter at Vanderbilt. The Women on Track program aims to advance the careers of women in science by promoting the advancement and retention of female tenure-track faculty, providing mentorship for female junior faculty, and creating an infrastructure for internal promotion from the house staff and post-doctoral levels.
  • The VU Psychological and Counseling Center provides individual and group counseling, assessment, and organizational consulting.
  • Career Services include the Vanderbilt Career Center and the BRET Office of Career Development and Outcomes Analysis, each of which lists available positions. Other resources include workshops, seminars, and alumni networking.
  • Writing and Language Support Services, including the Vanderbilt English Language Center and the Vanderbilt Editors' Club, which is sponsored by BRET.
  • Services for International Students are coordinated by the International Students and Scholars Services office.
As noted above, the more than 20 core VUIIS faculty members have a broad spectrum of interests within imaging science. Their activities are supported by more than 25 NIH research project grants and similar awards, totaling more than 10 million dollars in annual direct research funds. Post-doctoral training at the VUIIS is sponsored by these regular research project grants and by two institutional training grants. Regular research grants provide funding for a specific scientific project and may include funds for a post-doctoral fellow. Interested parties are recommended to contact individual faculty members about such opportunities. Persons interested in applying to a training grant should contact either Dr. John Gore, the Principal Investigator for the T32 award entitled "Postdoctoral Training in Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy," or Dr. Ron Price, PI for the R25 award entitled "Postdoctoral Training in Cancer Imaging." Professional development activities across campus are extensive.

VUIIS Scientific Communication Seminars

Invitation to Attend

VUIIS is offering a series of seminars on the topic of scientific communication. These are primarily offered to meet the course requirements for Chemical and Physical Biology 316, Scientific Communication in the Imaging Sciences II. However, the classes are open to all interested VUIIS personnel.

Objectives

  1. To learn procedures for, and gain experience in, reviewing scientific literature and formulating questions;
  2. To learn about agencies that fund research;
  3. To learn procedures for, and gain experience in, proposal development;
  4. To learn about the manuscript writing and review process.

Schedule

All classes will meet on Wednesdays from 1:00 – 2:00 pm in the VUIIS 1st floor classroom.

Resources

General
  • Vanderbilt Editors’ Club (See also their list of online resources)
  • The Vanderbilt College Writing Program’s compendium of online writing resources
  • Vanderbilt English Language Center
  • Locke, LF, WW Spirduso, SJ Silverman. (2007). Proposals that Work (5th ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Booth WC, GC Colomb, JM Williams. (2008). The Craft of Research (3rd ed). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Strunk W, EB White. (2000). The Elements of Style (4th ed). Needham, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Ethical Issues Literature Searches Grant and Proposal Development Making Scientific Presentations

Further Information

Contact Bruce Damon (bruce.damon@vanderbilt.edu) if you would like attend or have any questions.