Grace Parraga, PhD

Grace Parraga, Associate Professor, Medical Biophysics, Biomedical Engineering, Medical Imaging, Oncology, The University of Western Ontario, Scientist, Imaging Research Laboratories

Why I Became a Scientist

I was always curious and deeply sceptical about the material I was taught as a child, and I was driven to “prove it to myself” when provided information as a young learner (which proved to be very hard on my parents and teachers).  I also had an opportunity to work with patients as a young teenager and continued to do so in a primary care facility for 6 summers and this drove my curiosity about human disease.  I continue to be challenged to explain why, what, how and how to fix. Now that I’m training the next generation of scientists -many of whom are driven by the same scepticism and curiosity, it is both stimulating and rewarding – I can’t wait to get up in the morning and get in to work!

Research Summary

Our lab is focussed on using imaging tools to study human disease.  We are developing new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), three-dimensional ultrasound (3DUS) and x-ray computed tomography (CT) image measurements of stroke risk and chronic lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis and lung cancer because of the dire clinical need for improved treatments.  We think that direct visualization of disease structure and function in patients provides disease measurements that are more sensitive, specific, precise and accurate than less direct measurements. 

Research Questions and Disease Implications

Can imaging measurements of smoking-related lung disease be used to predict patient outcomes?

We are developing MRI-based measurements of asthma and COPD to better understand disease and to track patients over time and in response to treatment.  This will help us understand why some patients do better than others.

Do some patients with smoking-related lung disease have a dominant disease type that can be used to help guide therapy?

We are developing a way to phenotype COPD patients using imaging to help guide personalized therapy and to help to improve long term outcomes.

How does the lung age in healthy non-smokers and are there differences between men and women?

MRI helps provide clues about diseased and aging lungs and why some disease is apparently worse in women than in men.


• PhD, University of Washington Seattle USA (Biochemistry)
• MSc, The University of Western Ontario London Canada (Biochemistry)
• BSc (Hons), The University of Western Ontario London Canada (Biochemistry)


• Post-doctoral Fellowship Biozentrum, University of Basel, Basel Switzerland


• CIHR New Investigator Award 2010 - 2015
• RSNA Trainee Prize 2009, 2011
• Western University Teaching Honour Roll


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