Talissa Altes

Talissa Altes

  • Altes

Talissa (Tally) Altes, MD

Associate Professor and Vice Chairman of Clinical Research, Radiology and Medical Imaging

MD, University of Washington, 1996
Residency, Radiology, University of Virginia, 2001
Fellowship, Radiology (Pediatric) Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Cincinnati, OH, 2002
Fellowship, Radiology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, 2002

University of Virginia Hospital Medical Center
Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging
Box 800170
Charlottesville, VA 22908

(434) 924-0211

Research Interests

In 1998 as a radiology resident at UVA, I became involved in lung imaging research using hyperpolarized gas as a non-toxic, non-radioactive inhaled contrast agent for MRI.  By allying with John Mugler, PhD and Eduard de Lange, MD, we have built a very strong hyperpolarized gas MRI research program at UVA.  I pioneered the application of this technique in a variety of lung diseases including asthma, cystic fibrosis (CF), and bronchopulmonary dysplasia (also known as chronic lung disease of prematurity).  Dr Mugler pioneered a number of hyperpolarized gas imaging techniques including diffusion weighted imaging and direct dissolved phase imaging. Our lab has imaged more human subjects than any other site, and UVA is considered one of the preeminent sites for hyperpolarized gas MRI.  We have an outstanding record of continuous funding (over $17M since 1999 including $13M from NIH, $1M from foundations/state, and $3M from industry). My background in engineering has enabled me to work closely with the MRI physicists in the lab and provided me a depth of understanding of their work.

As a physician, my role in the lab is to oversee all of the human subject aspects of our projects including conceiving new projects, writing and maintaining our institutional review board (IRB) protocols, recruiting and evaluating subjects, overseeing the imaging, ensuring the safety of our research subjects, evaluating the image analysis, and overseeing our study coordinators.  Further, I mentor the MRI physics graduate students and post doctoral fellows in the clinical aspects of their research.

Other techniques for evaluating the activity or severity of lung disease have important limitations. CT delivers relatively high doses of ionizing radiation to the patient/subject, which carries a small but non-zero risk of inducing cancer.  Spirometry cannot be performed by young children and is known to be insensitive to small changes in disease severity. Our technique is very safe and thus may be repeated frequently to gain a better understanding of the time course of response to treatment or simply the natural history of different lung diseases. For example, in asthmatics we found that the areas of abnormal lung ventilation are not randomly varying with time as many had presumed, but instead recur in the same locations within the lung over time and following provocation (eg exercise).  This has important implications for the basic understanding of the disease and its treatment, and has led us to a new method for investigating the underlying pathophysiology of asthma-imaged guided bronchoscopy.  We have ongoing projects with two pharmaceutical companies interested in using our technique during drug discovery.  We recently pioneered the technique in non-sedated infants, a potentially  important breakthrough in that for the first time there is a quantitative measure of the severity of lung disease in infants.

Publication Highlights

Gerber RE, Brant WE, Petroze RT, Rudakemwa E, Moshi C, Ntakiyiruta G, Ngenzi J, Rheuban KS, Altes TA, Calland JF. Picturing the climate: radiologic assessment of Rwandan imaging capacity. J Am Coll Radiol. 2012 Jan;9(1):69-73.

Dregely I, Ruset IC, Mata JF, Ketel J, Ketel S, Distelbrink J, Altes TA, Mugler JP 3rd, Wilson Miller G, William Hersman F, Ruppert K. Multiple-exchange-time xenon polarization transfer contrast (MXTC) MRI: initial results in animals and healthy volunteers. Magn Reson Med. 2012 Apr;67(4):943-53. doi: 10.1002/mrm.23066. Epub 2011 Dec 28.

Tustison NJ, Avants BB, Flors L, Altes TA, de Lange EE, Mugler JP 3rd, Gee JC. Ventilation-based segmentation of the lungs using hyperpolarized (3)He MRI. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2011 Oct;34(4):831-41. doi: 10.1002/jmri.22738. Epub 2011 Aug 11.

Mata J, Altes T, Truwit J, Sylvester P, de Lange E, Shim Y, Vinayak A, Brookeman J, Mugler J 3rd. Characterization and detection of physiologic lung changes before and after placement of bronchial valves using hyperpolarized helium-3 MR imaging: preliminary study. Acad Radiol. 2011 Sep;18(9):1195-9. Epub 2011 May 4.

Dregely I, Mugler JP 3rd, Ruset IC, Altes TA, Mata JF, Miller GW, Ketel J, Ketel S, Distelbrink J, Hersman FW, Ruppert K. Hyperpolarized Xenon-129 gas-exchange imaging of lung microstructure: first case studies in subjects with obstructive lung disease. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2011 May;33(5):1052-62. doi: 10.1002/jmri.22533.

Cai J, McLawhorn R, Altes TA, de Lange E, Read PW, Larner JM, Benedict SH, Sheng K. Helical tomotherapy planning for lung cancer based on ventilation magnetic resonance imaging. Med Dosim. 2011 Winter;36(4):389-96. Epub 2011 Mar 5.

Aysola R, de Lange EE, Castro M, Altes TA. Demonstration of the heterogeneous distribution of asthma in the lungs using CT and hyperpolarized helium-3 MRI. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2010 Dec;32(6):1379-87. doi: 10.1002/jmri.22388. Review.

Mugler JP 3rd, Altes TA, Ruset IC, Dregely IM, Mata JF, Miller GW, Ketel S, Ketel J, Hersman FW, Ruppert K. Simultaneous magnetic resonance imaging of ventilation distribution and gas uptake in the human lung using hyperpolarized xenon-129. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Dec 14;107(50):21707-12. Epub 2010 Nov 22.

Parmar JP, Rogers WJ, Mugler JP 3rd, Baskurt E, Altes TA, Nandalur KR, Stukenborg GJ, Phillips CD, Hagspiel KD, Matsumoto AH, Dake MD, Kramer CM. Magnetic resonance imaging of carotid atherosclerotic plaque in clinically suspected acute transient ischemic attack and acute ischemic stroke. Circulation. 2010 Nov 16;122(20):2031-8. Epub 2010 Nov 1.

Tustison NJ, Altes TA, Song G, de Lange EE, Mugler JP 3rd, Gee JC. Feature analysis of hyperpolarized helium-3 pulmonary MRI: a study of asthmatics versus nonasthmatics. Magn Reson Med. 2010 Jun;63:1448-55