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Phil Lee, Ph.D.

Phil Lee portrait
Professor, Radiology

Professional Background

Dr. Phil Lee is a Professor in the Department of Radiology and Director of the Magnetic Resonance Imaging Unit and the Magnetic Resonance Technology Program at the Hoglund Biomedical Imaging Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He is also affiliated with the Bioengineering Program at the University of Kansas. Dr. Lee completed his Ph.D. degree in Biophysical Sciences and Medical Physics and his postdoctoral training at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research at the University of Minnesota. After serving as a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Medical Physics and at the Center for Advanced Brain Imaging at the Nathan Kline Institute in New York, Dr. Lee joined the University of Kansas Medical Center in 2005. Dr. Lee has been an active member of professional societies relevant to his expertise (e.g., magnetic resonance technology/science and neuroscience) such as the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, the International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, the International Society for Neurochemistry, the American Society for Neurochemistry, the International Conference on Brain Energy Metabolism and others. He is a recipient of the Frontiers Team Science Award and also received various awards from these scientific societies. He serves the scientific community as an invited speaker and in the program and organizing committees of international workshops and conferences.

Education and Training
  • PhD, Biophysical Sciences and Medical Physics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Post Doctoral Fellowship, Medical Physics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Professional Affiliations
  • Radiological Society of North America, Member, 2020 - Present
  • American Society for Nutrition, Member, 2016 - Present
  • Alzheimer's Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer Research and Treatment, Member, 2009 - Present
  • International Society for Neurochemistry, Member, 2008 - Present
  • International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, Member, 2003 - Present
  • International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, Member, 1998 - Present



Dr. Lee’s specific research interests include the development of novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) techniques to assess the integrity of structural, functional, physiological aspects of the brain in vivo at the cellular and molecular level. The research goals of his lab are 1) to identify the underlying mechanisms of improved brain health and cognitive performance associated with behavioral interventions and/or new targeted therapies in aging population, 2) to understand key pathologic mechanisms underlying disease activity, clinical status and disease progression in neurological disorders including Alzheimer disease and multiple sclerosis in the living brain, 3) to guide the development of new targeted therapies and intervention strategies, and 4) to offer novel possibilities for directly monitoring the impact of new treatment options and lifestyle choice (e.g., exercise and diet) through quantitative, non-invasive neuroimaging indices of brain health in aging, Alzheimer disease (AD), AD-related diseases and other neurodegenerative diseases. An example of his research topics is listed below.

Assessing microstructural changes in the brain of patients with multiple sclerosis:
Multiple sclerosis has been known as a white matter disease in the human brain. However, increasing evidence suggests the presence of gray matter pathology, which has been suggested to be closely associated with disease status and cognitive deficits. A new generation of MRI techniques allow us to explore new possibilities to visualize such pathology in living humans. A new emerging MRI technique, diffusional kurtosis imaging (DKI), can characterize microstructural organization at the cellular level through evaluation of both Gaussian and non-Gaussian properties of water diffusion. We studied over 50 patients with multiple sclerosis to measure subtle microstructural changes among major subtypes of the disease at 3 T using DKI technique, and investigate association between DKI parameters and cognitive function such as memory and executive function and processing speed. Our data showed that diffusion parameters were sensitive to distinguish the microstructural differences among the subtypes of multiple sclerosis and these parameters were correlated with the disease duration and the clinical disease severity scale of multiple sclerosis, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), as well as information processing speed and executive planning. We found that various diffusion parameters could indicate different pathologic features of multiple sclerosis in a region-specific manner and show promise in serving as sensitive biomarkers of the pathophysiology.