Project Description

Professor of Radiology and Bioengineering

Phone: (206)616-9346
Office: South Lake Union campus, 850 Republican Street, Brotman D- 124

With the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in combination with other imaging modalities, we study atherosclerotic lesions in order to determine the mechanisms underlying their development and progression. We develop hypotheses through the methods we develop and test them against histological and other clinical evidence in order to come up with more accurate studies that will determine, with greater accuracy, the risks and other factors to prevent stroke, atherosclerosis and other coronary events or even predict them before they can occur.
Magnetic resonance imaging
Multi modal imaging techniques
Vulnerable carotid plaque
High risk plaque
Intraplaque hemorrhage
Coronary events
Cardiovascular disease

I have pioneered multiple high-resolution MRI techniques and the many image analysis tools that have been developed in our laboratory to detect vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques and led numerous MRI studies examining carotid atherosclerosis for risk stratification in patients with prior ischemic symptoms and known lesions of atherosclerosis. My research focus is on the discovery of several key plaque features associated with current and future clinical symptoms; intraplaque hemorrhage, lipid-rich necrotic core, and luminal ulceration (and/or disruption), as well as an MR technique to examine plaque neovasculature and inflammation; the role carotid intraplaque hemorrhage plays in stroke and ultimately to lead to better clinical management of atherosclerotic patients.

My expertise has also been used to assist in the development of an innovative educational program that will take advantage of advancements in hybrid clinical imaging (PET/CT, SPECT/CT, PET/MRI) that may also be useful in other fields through training of individuals and designing imaging-based trials and supervising imaging- based studies and clinical trials.

PhD, Medical Biophysics and Computing, University of Utah, 1998
BS, Physics, 1979-1982, Beijing Nomal University, Beijing, China 1982
Senior Research Analyst, GE Medical Systems
Member, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Medical Imaging Study Section (MEDI) for Surgical Sciences, Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Integrated Review Group
Member, Committee on Scientific Sessions Program of the American Heart Association representing Core 7 of the Council on Cardiovascular Radiology and Intervention (CVRI)
Fellowships from AHA, ISMRM; memberships in several program committees, grant reviewer, editorial responsibilities in top peer-reviewed journals; moderator/keynote speaker in invited lectures for local and international scientific meetings in imaging, atherosclerosis and other state of the art scientific fields
UW – Director, Vascular Imaging Lab (VIL); Director, BioMolecular Imaging Center (BMIC)
BIOEN 420: Medical Imaging
BIOEN 599: Special Topics in Bioengineering
Hatsukami TS, Ross R, Yuan C. Visualization of Fibrous Cap Thickness and Rupture in Human Atherosclerotic Carotid Plaque In-vivo with High Resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Circulation 2000; 102:959-964. PMID:10961958 Link:

Yang C, Canton G, Yuan C, Ferguson M, Hatsukami TS, Tang D. Advanced human carotid plaque progression correlates positively with flow shear stress using follow-up scan data: An in vivo MRI multi-patient 3D FSI study. J Biomech. 2010 Jun 4. [Epub ahead of print] PMC2937096

Li F, McDermott MM, Li D, Carroll TJ, Hippe DS, Kramer CM, Fan Z, Zhao X, Hatsukami TS, Chu B, Wang J, Yuan C. The association of lesion eccentricity with plaque morphology and components in the superficial femoral artery: a high-spatial-resolution, multi-contrast weighted CMR study. J Cardiovasc Magn Reson. 2010 Jul 1;12:37. PMC2904754

Wang J, Ferguson MS, Balu N, Yuan C, Hatsukami TS, Börnert P. Improved carotid intraplaque hemorrhage imaging using a slab-selective phase-sensitive inversion-recovery (SPI) sequence. Magn Reson Med. 2010 Jul 1. [Epub ahead of print] PMID 20597120 Link:

Ota H, Reeves MJ, Zhu DC, Majid A, Collar A, Yuan C, Demarco JK. Sex differences in patients with asymptomatic carotid atherosclerotic plaque: in vivo 3.0-T magnetic resonance study. Stroke. 2010 Aug;41(8):1630-5. Epub 2010 Jul 8. PMID 20616325, Link:

Dong L, Wang J, Yarnykh VL, Underhill HR, Neradilek MB, Polissar NL, Hatsukami TS, Yuan C. Efficient Flow Suppressed MRI Improves Reproducibility of Carotid Atherosclerosis Plaque Burden Measurements. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2010 Aug;32(2):452-8. PMC2915455

Chen H, Cai J, Zhao X, Underhill H, Ota H, Oikawa M, Dong L, Yuan C, Kerwin WS. Localized measurement of atherosclerotic plaque inflammatory burden with dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI. Magn Reson Med. 2010 Aug;64(2):567-73. PMID: 20665799 link:

Demarco JK, Ota H, Underhill HR, Zhu DC, Reeves MJ, Potchen MJ, Majid A, Collar A, Talsma JA, Potru S, Oikawa M, Dong L, Zhao X, Yarnykh VL, Yuan C. MR carotid plaque imaging and contrast-enhanced MR angiography identifies lesions associated with recent ipsilateral thromboembolic symptoms: an in vivo study at 3T. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2010 Sep;31(8):1395-402. Epub 2010 Jul 22.PMID: 20651015 Link:

Yang C, Canton G, Yuan C, Ferguson M, Hatsukami TS, Tang D. Advanced human carotid plaque progression correlates positively with flow shear stress using follow-up scan data: an in vivo MRI multi-patient 3D FSI study. J Biomech. 2010 Sep 17;43(13):2530-8. Epub 2010 Jun 8. PMC2937096

Zhao X, Underhill HR, Zhao Q, Cai J, Li F, Oikawa M, Dong L, Ota H, Hatsukami TS, Chu B, Yuan C. Discriminating Carotid Atherosclerotic Lesion Severity by Luminal Stenosis and Plaque Burden: A Comparison Utilizing High-Resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging at 3.0 Tesla. Stroke. 2011 Feb;42(2):347-53. Epub 2010 Dec 23. PMID: 21183749 Link:

Huang X, Teng Z, Canton G., Ferguson M, Yuan C, Tang D. Intraplaque hemorrhage is associated with higher structural stresses in human atherosclerotic plaques: an in vivo MRI-based 3d fluid-structure interaction study. BioMedical Engineering Online 2010, 9:86 (31 December 2010) PMC3024221

Underhill HR, Rostomily RC, Mikheev AM, Yuan C, Yarnykh VL. Fast bound pool fraction imaging of the in vivo rat brain: Association with myelin content and validation in the C6 glioma model. Neuroimage. 2011 Feb 1;54(3):2052-65. Epub 2010 Oct 26. PMC3008309

Underhill HR, Hatsukami TS, Cai J, Yu W, Demarco JK, Polissar NL, Ota H, Zhao X, Dong L, Oikawa M, Yuan C. A Noninvasive Imaging Approach to Assess Plaque Severity: The Carotid Atherosclerosis Score. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2010. PMC2885536

Dong L, Kerwin WS, Chen H, Chu B, Underhill HR, Neradilek MB, Hatsukami TS, Yuan C, Zhao XQ. Carotid Artery Atherosclerosis: Effect of Intensive Lipid Therapy on the Vasa Vasorum–Evaluation by Using Dynamic Contrast-enhanced MR Imaging. Radiology. 2011 Jul;260(1):224-31. Epub 2011 Apr 14. PMC3121009

Sun J, Underhill HR, Hippe DS, Xue Y, Yuan C, Hatsukami TS. Sustained acceleration in carotid atherosclerotic plaque progression with intraplaque hemorrhage: a long-term time course study. JACC CVI. 2012;5:798-804. PMC3422506

Underhill HR, Yarnykh VL, Hatsukami TS, Wang J, Balu N, Hayes CE, Oikawa M, Yu W, Xu D, Chu B, Wyman BT, Polissar NL, Yuan C. Carotid plaque morphology and composition: initial comparison between 1.5- and 3.0-T magnetic field strengths. Radiology. 2008 Aug;248(2):550-60. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2482071114. Epub 2008 Jun 23. PMID: 18574135. [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]. PMCID: PMC2797646 (62 citations)

Tang D, Teng Z, Canton G, Yang C, Ferguson M, Huang X, Zheng J, Woodard PK, Yuan C. Sites of rupture in human atherosclerotic carotid plaques are associated with high structural stresses: an in vivo MRI-based 3D fluid-structure interaction study. Stroke. 2009 Oct;40(10):3258-63. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.109.558676. Epub 2009 Jul 23. PMID: 19628799. [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]. PMCID: PMC2753753 (55 citations)


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