Rajiv Chopra, PhD

  • Recruited to: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • Recruited from: Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto, Canada
  • Award: Rising Star

Dr. Rajiv Chopra is a physical scientist developing image-guided cancer therapies. Medical imaging is essential for surgical and radiation treatment planning, however it could play a central role in guiding, or even controlling treatments as they are being delivered. A unique form of image-guided therapy involves the combination of high-intensity focused ultrasound energy (HIFU) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Ultrasound energy is transmitted into the body and focused to precise volumes to cause tissue destruction through thermal coagulation. MRI is used to monitor and control the treatment by measuring tissue temperature during ultrasound delivery. The resulting treatment is non-invasive and involves no ionizing radiation. In addition, the measurement of tissue temperature in the body while ultrasound is being delivered provides a measurement directly predictive of cell death, transforming the treatment into one in which the desired biological endpoint can be verified with imaging. MR-HIFU is a broad technology platform, and has been applied for the non-invasive treatment of uterine fibroids, brain tissue, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and bone metastases. The potential for MR-HIFU in oncology is significant, both as a primary therapy or a means to augment chemo- and radio- therapy.

Dr. Chopra was born and raised in Canada, where he received his education. He obtained his BSc (Physics) in 1996 from McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario), and his PhD in Medical Biophysics in 2002 from the University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada). From 2006-2012 Dr. Chopra was a Scientist within the Imaging Research group at Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto, Canada, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto. He has devoted his research career to the development of MR-HIFU systems and translation of the technology to humans. His efforts led to the world’s first human trials of transurethral MR-HIFU, a novel minimally-invasive method for the treatment of localized prostate cancer. The technology now has investigational approval in Canada, Germany, and the US and is being evaluated clinically.

Dr. Chopra was recruited in 2012 to the Department of Radiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center to build a research program in this rapidly growing area of medicine. MR-HIFU is a broad platform technology that could have impact on multiple cancers including central nervous system, pediatrics, breast, prostate, liver, kidney and bone.