Bioengineering PhD Develops and Commercializes Breakthrough MRI Technology

Codi Gharagouzloo, PhD’16, bioengineering, co-founded Imaginostics, commercializing a novel technology called QUTE-CE MRI, which is a platform technology for non-invasive imaging that transforms any MRI machine into a powerful quantitative diagnostic tool. Imaginostics was recognized as a finalist among more than 4,500 participants of Hello Tomorrow, a prestigious competition for deep tech startups.

This article originally appeared on Northeastern Global News. It was published by Alena Kuzub. Main photo: QUTE-CE MRI images are 100 times better quality than regular MRI scans done without a contrast and 10 times better than MRI with a contrast agent Gadolinium. Images by Kevin Johnson, Ph.D., UW

Meet the Innovators: Northeastern grads promise early detection of diseases with breakthrough MRI technology

Codi Gharagouzloo, a physicist and bioengineer, enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Northeastern University in 2011, dreaming of curing cancer.

“I originally came in with this sort of magic bullet idea,” he says. “I thought nanoparticles were just going to be the cure to cancer.”

In the mid-2000s, nanoparticles, a class of tiny materials that cannot be seen with a regular microscope, and nanomedicine, which uses medical intervention at the molecular level, became a highly promising area of research on cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

As a research assistant in the lab of Srinivas Sridhar, director of Nanomedicine Innovation Center at Northeastern and distinguished professor of physics, Gharagouzloo used magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, to study the use of iron oxide nanoparticles for quantifying the enhanced permeability and retention effect when molecules of certain of certain size can accumulate in tumor tissue.

But he soon realized that nanoparticle drug delivery to cancer would be made successful through specific targeting for specific cancers, driven by discoveries in molecular biology and not physics.

Valerie, left, and Codi Gharagouzloo, co-founders of Imaginostics, believe QUTE-CE MRI will reshape health care and facilitate early detection of complex diseases. Courtesy Photo

Before long he came up with a new, visionary idea — what if he could overcome the drawback of MRI scans, which produce only visual, qualitative data, and provide radiologists with new, quantitative information on internal tissues and organs acquired by measuring blood vessels with new methods.

Those diagnostics were needed for precision medicine, he says, which focuses on individualized evaluation of disease risks, diagnostics and treatment plans for patients.

It took Gharagouzloo six months to learn the physics behind the MRI technology and 12 years to reach the first phase of commercialization of his novel technology.

Gharagouzloo credits Northeastern for providing him with resources needed to start developing his idea. He was provided access to an MRI scanner, he says, from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m.

He says he received a great deal of support from Craig Ferris, professor of psychology and director of the Center for Translational NeuroImaging at Northeastern. They discussed ideas and possible applications of the new technology.

Gharagouzloo co-founded his company, Imaginostics, in July 2018 with his wife, Valerie, whom he met during a summer abroad in her native France, and an angel investor, Mike Lawson, that the couple met through their local church in Boston.

Read full story at Northeastern Global News

Related Departments:Bioengineering