Claude Sirlin, MD


Claude B. Sirlin, MD, is Associate Professor of Radiology at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). He received his BA in Biology at Harvard University and his MD at the University of California, San Francisco. He completed residency training in Diagnostic Radiology at UCSD and fellowship training in cross-sectional body imaging (MR, CT, US) at Stanford University. He joined the faculty at UCSD in 2001. He is Chief of Body MRI, Head of the Liver Imaging Research Group, and Head of Clinical Research, Division of Body Imaging. Dr. Sirlin has dedicated many years to researching various imaging techniques, and his current research is focused on MR imaging of liver cancer and diffuse liver disease. He has published more than 30 papers, 5 book chapters, 65 scientific abstracts, and 50 educational exhibits, and he reviews for 5 scientific journals. Dr. Sirlin is also a dedicated teacher and mentor; in the last four years, he has supervised over 30 undergraduates, medical students, residents, and fellows in clinical imaging research. In 2004, Dr. Sirlin formed the UCSD Liver Imaging Group to develop new techniques (pulse sequences, protocols, and post-processing methods) for liver imaging. The Group actively collaborates with hepatologists, liver surgeons, pathologists, and biostatisticians on several clinical and animal research studies. Specific areas of interest are liver cancer and diffuse liver disease (fibrosis, fat, and inflammation).

Dr. Sirlin's current projects include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Center on Minority Health & Health Disparities (NCMHD), Comprehensive Research Center in Health Disparities (CRCHD) funded pilot project, which is described below.

Pilot Research

Dr. Sirlin's study aims to assess the feasibility and accuracy of magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy as a diagnostic tool for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A major obstacle to progress in the field of NAFLD research is that biopsy, the diagnostic gold standard, is invasive and costly. Developing a rapid, accurate MR method that works on routine clinical scanners would be an important advance. Such a method could be implemented widely with low marginal costs, would be suitable for use in large epidemiologic studies and treatment trials, and may increase access of Mexican Americans and other high-risk groups to appropriate medical care for NAFLD. The specific aims of this study are:

  1. To recruit Mexican American, African American and Asian subjects for MR liver studies.
  2. To perform experimental MR imaging, conventional MR imaging, and MR spectroscopy (at 3 Tesla and 1.5 Tesla).
  3. To show the feasibility of performing the experimental MR technique.
  4. To compare the accuracy of the experimental and conventional MR techniques, using MR spectroscopy as the reference standard (biopsy will not be performed routinely).
  5. To generate the necessary preliminary data to plan a future larger NIH R01 proposal.

It is known that the prevalence of NAFLD varies widely depending on race and ethnicity, but the mechanisms underlying this dependency are poorly understood. The techniques assessed through this study will be suitable for epidemiological and other research studies to enhance our understanding of these associations.

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