Assistant Professor of Radiology, Center for Biomedical Imaging, New York University
Dr. Jonathan Polimeni is Assistant Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School and of Biomedical Engineering at Massachusetts General Hospital, Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. In his research, he focuses on the fundamental understanding of neural activity in the brain, often in the visual cortex. In pursuing this understanding, Dr. Polimeni has along the way pushed the boundaries of fMRI. His work has resulted in many contributions to both neuroscience and functional imaging science, both in insights gained and in technical advancements. We had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Polimeni about his experience as a scientist and his vision on functional imaging.
Steven Baete (SB): To start things off, if you were not talking to brain mappers or scientists, how would you describe your research and your most proud scientific accomplishment?
Jon Polimeni (JP): I would first say that MRI tracks brain function not by detecting neural activity directly. Instead, you can see where the blood flow is increased in the brain in order to deliver oxygen to where it is needed. And because of the magnetic properties of the blood, we can track this with MRI. The blood vessels of the brain are quite smart, and can deliver blood exactly to where it is needed, when it is needed. The goal of my work is to understand how the blood flow is delivered to the brain and to build technologies to image this delivery more clearly. To make functional MRI a better tool to see neural activity and brain function in working brains.
My proudest scientific accomplishment is just to be able to contribute. As a domain, I feel like we have been able to both develop technologies to improve our abilities to track brain function with fMRI and to shed a few insights into this blood flow regulation. I am not sure if I can point to a single achievement, I am just happy to be a part of this endeavor.