The Department of Radiology was pleased to welcome Professor of Radiology Peter Bream, Jr., MD, in October 2018 as the newest Vascular-Interventional Radiology (VIR) Division faculty member. Dr. Bream joins this team under the direction of Division Chief Dr. Charles Burke. 

Dr. Bream returns to UNC as an alumnus of the Department’s VIR fellowship program (2000-2001) and of UNC’s School of Medicine (1991-1996). He completed his Diagnostic Radiology residency training at the University of Alabama – Birmingham (1996-2000). Dr. Bream’s name is familiar to many Department long-timers — he is the grandson of one of the Department’s founding members, Dr. Charles Bream, who served on faculty 30+ years. His father, Dr. Peter R. Bream, was also a radiologist and UNC School of Medicine graduate.

Post-training, Dr. Bream was appointed to faculty at Vanderbilt University Department of Radiology in 2001. He later held a joint faculty position in Vanderbilt’s Division of Nephrology (2009-2018).  As IR Fellowship Program Director, Dr. Bream was instrumental in developing one of the first Integrated Interventional Radiology (IR) residency programs to be accredited nationwide.  He also served as the IR Medical Director and the Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC) team’s Medical Director. As liaison to Vanderbilt’s Department of Trauma, Dr. Bream served as a representative on the committee that achieved American College of Surgeons (ACS) Level One trauma designation.

A career academic radiologist, Dr. Bream has served in multiple leadership roles. He currently serves as both an oral board examiner and a question writer for the American Board of Radiology. He is also the Editor of the Interventional Radiology section of the American College of Radiology’s Case in Point.  His research has focused on advancing his own procedural innovation in percutaneous placement of gastrostomy tubes, novel ways to access the central veins, and reviews of dialysis catheters and utilization of the HeRO® device. He holds a patent on a novel surgical drape for IR procedures that is currently being evaluated for production. He has also applied his understanding of social media’s value to medicine through co-authoring papers on its use in IR. In 2017, he was elected as a Fellow of the Society of Interventional Radiology.

Dr. Bream brings to UNC wide-ranging clinical skills. He specializes not only in non-vascular IR procedures, but also in complex venous access procedures such as hemodialysis, complex IVC filter retrieval, central venous reconstruction, enterocutaneous fistula repair, and pulmonary AVM embolization. Beyond patient care, he is involved in residency recruitment, quality initiatives, upgrading some of the CT protocols and shoring up a strong gastrostomy tube-placement protocol.

He noted: “I somehow always knew I would end up back in Chapel Hill. I have been coming here to visit family all my life and am thrilled to finally call it home. I am so excited to use my experience at Vanderbilt to bring some new ideas to the IR division, and to learn new methods that are commonplace here. UNC’s diverse faculty of senior and junior partners in IR makes me very enthusiastic about mentoring and further developing ideas that were impossible to implement in my former job. I look forward to completing the transition into the IR residency and to helping invent new ways of developing the next generations of IR physicians! I have been humbled by the warm welcome I have received thus far and look forward to a very productive career here.”

The Department has been pleased to work with Yong Chen, PhD, over the year past at UNC’s Biomedical Research Imaging Center (BRIC). Dr. Chen was appointed to Dr. Weili Lin’s group at the BRIC as a Research Instructor in September 2017. His research focuses on development of novel MR Fingerprinting techniques for quantitative MR imaging. Over the past year, Dr. Chen and colleagues have applied the MR Fingerprinting technique to imaging typically development childreperformed through a pilot study. This work has been recently accepted for publication in NeuroImage. Dr. Chen is also collaborating with other faculty members and clinicians in the Department to develop novel post-processing techniques for MR Fingerprinting using machine learning to then evaluate the technique in clinical applications.

Dr. Chen received his PhD from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Before he joined UNC, he was an instructor in the Department of Radiology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.

The Department was pleased to appoint Mingxia Liu, PhD, as a Research Instructor in July 2018. In a role that affirms her excellence working in the UNC IDEA Lab as a post-doc (2015-2018) under the direction of Professor Dr. Dinggang Shen, Dr. Liu continues her work serving as a key researcher for various human brain mapping research projects. She has developed various machine-learning- and deep-learning-based frameworks for automated diagnosis and prognosis of brain disorders based on neuroimages, providing fundamentally important insights into brain neurodegenerative patterns of the human brain.

Dr. Liu’s scholarly excellence has been recognized several times in her field. In 2016, she was nominated for both the Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention Society (MICCAI) Young Scientist Award and the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award from the Chinese Association for Artificial Intelligence. She received the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Awards from both the Computer Society of Jiangsu Province and Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, China, in 2016.

Dr. Liu continues to make significant research contributions to improving computer-aided diagnosis and prognosis of brain diseases based on multi-modality neuroimages. A major research aim is to extend her machine-learning- and deep-learning-based frameworks to incorporate information from different imaging modalities (e.g., MRI, PET and fMRI) and apply the resulting novel analysis paradigms to a number of important clinical studies, including Alzheimer’s Disease and autism, for both prognosis and diagnosis purposes.

Liu noted: “I was pleased be appointed to faculty not only as an affirmation of my work as a post-doc, but also as a means to continue my work in the IDEA Lab. I’ll try my best in this role to help secure major funding, get scholarly work published through co-authorship, and help lead subgroups on brain disease analysis.”

The Department was pleased to appoint Tengfei Li, PhD, as a Research Instructor in July 2018. In this role, Dr. Li works with UNC Biomedical Research Imaging Center (BRIC) Director Dr. Weili Lin on statistical methodologies, such as longitudinal and functional data analysis of infant brain development on the collaborative UNC/University of MN Baby Connectome project. As a biostatistician, Dr. Li’s research scope also includes developing statistical modeling and machine learning for breast tumor segmentation and subtype classification, heritability analysis of brain quantitative measures between parents and teenagers, etc.

Dr. Li also collaborates with UNC Center for Animal MRI Director Dr. Yen-Yu Ian Shih on functional network evaluation, Independent Component Analysis (ICA), causal inference, etc., for the rodent brain.  Prior to joining Department faculty, Dr. Li worked at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, both as a Senior Research Scientist (2018) and Post-Doc Fellow (2016-2018). He is also a former Post-Doctoral Associate at UNC within the Department of Biostatistics (2015-2016).

“I look forward sustaining my primary area of research through all that this appointment allows me, including the resources of the [BRIC] for advancing statistical modeling. In the coming year, I hope to be particularly productive in functional data analysis, dimension reduction and variable selection, missing data analysis, etc.”

The Department was pleased to appoint Bobby Huynh, PharmD, as a Research Instructor in August 2018. In this role, Dr. Huynh works under the guidance of Dr. Eric Smith, Director of Radiopharmacy and Quality Management, in supporting the radiochemistry program at the Biomedical Research Imaging Center through producing PET radiopharmaceuticals for clinical and investigational use. Dr. Huynh also supports the daily operations of the Nuclear Medicine Clinic by compounding and preparing radiotracers for use in molecular imaging. Additionally, he participates in the training and education of radiology residents, nuclear medicine technologist students, and pharmacy students; currently, he is developing an educational exhibit focused on the normal and abnormal biodistribution of Tc-99m pertechnetate in Meckel’s scans.

Dr. Huynh is a passionate teacher. Prior to pursuing his studies in pharmacy, he taught mathematics to 7th and 8th graders in the Bridgeport Public Schools system (Bridgeport, CT). During his time there, he developed a vast library of teaching tools to make learning fun, engaging, and meaningful for his students. He was devoted to their academic achievement and remained on campus after school for several hours a day in order to provide enrichment opportunities and to coach his track team. As a student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Dr. Huynh continued cultivating his love of teaching by serving as teaching assistant for his classes. He looks forward to further refining these skills during his time as a faculty member of the Department.

Dr. Huynh noted: “I couldn’t ask for a better post-grad opportunity than what the UNC Department of Radiology has to offer. Not only does my position afford me many chances to become a better teacher, it also puts me in direct contact with many experts from whom I can learn – an experienced radiopharmacist, nuclear medicine physicians, and veteran technologists, just to name a few. I expect to learn a thing or two from my mentors as I begin to take on the responsibilities of mentorship myself and grow as a researcher and healthcare professional.”

The Department was pleased to welcome Rachel Will, M.Ed., in November 2018 as the newest appointee to join the Department’s five-member Faculty Assistant team. In this role, Rachel administratively supports the 12 faculty members of the Musculoskeletal Imaging and Neuroradiology division.

On a daily basis, her wide-ranging scope of responsibility includes managing faculty calendars, updating scholarly documentation, managing fellow and faculty recruitment, assisting with special projects and supporting accounting related to faculty spending in her assigned divisions. Ms. Will also serves as back-up support to fellow team members and Department administrative officers.  She additionally assists the Department’s Undergraduate Medical Education (UME) coordinator, David Williams.

Prior to joining the Department, Ms. Will worked as a Spanish teacher (pre-K – 5th grade), instructional designer, and educational program coordinator in Winston-Salem, NC. She received her Masters of Education at Wake Forest University and earned her BA in Spanish and multimedia journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill.

She noted: “After managing a busy teaching schedule and elementary Spanish program, I feel right at home helping things run smoothly for the department. I’m thrilled to be returning to UNC, and am enjoying being in such a vibrant educational and medical setting.”

The Department was pleased to welcome Emily Gardner in November 2018 as the new Pre-Award Research Administrator on the Contracts and Grants Support team. In her new role, Emily works on all pre-award federal and non-federal new grant submissions and resubmissions, as well as renewals, progress reports and subcontracts. Her role also encompasses biosketch maintenance and supports, as well as new clinical trial, service & data usage agreements. She also fields all inquiries related to intra-departmental research administration.

Emily joined UNC after spending several years as a stay-at-home mom to her two children, and managing her own design staging business. Emily received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Emily noted: “I am excited to take on this new challenge in working for the University. I’m optimistic that the skill set I’ve applied to other activities in recent years will prove useful in a detail-oriented, time-sensitive role working with many accomplished research-focused University members.”

The Department’s Clinical Research Support team was pleased to welcome Desma Jones in January 2019 as its newest Clinical Research Coordinator. She joins a team that supports Department faculty conducting clinical and translational research through assisting clinical trial coordination and management, IRB submission, patient recruitment and consent and data management.
As its 7th member, Ms. Jones brings to this team a wealth of experience in University research coordination. She is involved in day-to-day patient recruitment and quality assurance, as well as fielding inquiries related to Department-related research and regulatory compliance.

Ms. Jones has over six years of experience in clinical research and expertise in research coordination and quality assurance. She received her BS in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to joining the Department of Radiology, Ms. Jones was a Research Coordinator for the Department of Anesthesiology’s Institute for Trauma Recovery.

She noted: “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such a great group of people.  I’m hopeful that my past several years in research at UNC have afforded me the tools necessary to be a positive addition to the Radiology research team. I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone and moving back into a more patient-centered role.”