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Advancing Science at St. Francis Hospital


Interview with Yulee Li, PhD, MRI Physicist

By Jonathan Scheiner

Yulee Li, Ph.D. is dedicated to the advancement of high-speed MRI technology at St. Francis Hospital. This new MRI technology incorporates artificial intelligence into cardiac imaging, combining parallel imaging, image reconstruction, computational fluid dynamics, computer vision and data science. This neural network can “learn” from previously taken cardiac images stored in past databases and compare them to incoming cases. This assessment could occur nearly instantaneously after scanning and potentially increase diagnostic and prognostic accuracy with Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) technology.

Dr. Li serves as both a leading MRI researcher at St. Francis and as Associate Professor of the Biomedical Engineering Department at Stony Brook University. Dr Li serves as a Principal Investigator in an NIH funded study investigating a novel high speed magnetic resonance imaging technique for non-invasive real-time cardiovascular examination. His collaboration with leading St. Francis physicians has significantly furthered his research, and he credits the success of this research to the clinical resources available at St. Francis.

“One very important thing for me at St. Francis is the expansive patient database. We can take significant amount of data and train a neural network to extract common features, general anatomical structures and valuable data from patients. Eventually, the trained neural network will have the ability to detect issues and abnormalities from new images. The availability of a large amount of medical imaging data makes it possible to take the most advantage of the learning power of AI; artificial intelligence.

“Real-time MRI imaging can provide real-time anatomical dynamics and blood flow information that allows us to use computational fluid dynamics to assess the level of stress on vessels and/or on the heart for quantitative diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases. However, this traditional method requires tedious manual data processing. With AI, this may become automatic.”

As the primary engineering-focused research team at St. Francis Hospital, Dr. Li’s research team provides a unique perspective to the clinical setting. This work has furthered mutual advancement in fast and accurate MRI technology to improve cardiac assessment. Next is adaptation of this technology to address a wider variety of patients with various cardiac diseases.