Robert Bartha

Robert Bartha, Scientist

Why I Became a Scientist

It has always given me great satisfaction to work hard on a difficult problem and invent innovative solutions. Working as a scientist at Robarts, I am able to be creative and continually learn while mentoring students to solve some of the most challenging problems in medicine. As an imaging scientist I develop new MRI methods to observe diseases of the human brain and body in unique ways, and then use these methods to investigate how diseases progress. Ultimately, working collaboratively as part of multidisciplinary teams, we can apply what we have learned to better and more quickly diagnose diseases such as Alzheimer disease, stroke, and cancer. There is a great feeling of personal satisfaction that is achieved with each new discovery and problem that is solved, particularly those that leads to the potential for a positive impact on healthcare.

Research Summary

Research is focused on the development of high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy techniques for early diagnosis of disease and monitoring of treatment response. We use primarily 3.0 Tesla and 7.0 Tesla human MRI scanners as well as a 9.4 Tesla small bore MRI scanner all at Robarts Research Institute. The group develops new methods for imaging structural and metabolic tissue changes, but also applies these new methods to the study of disease such as Alzheimer disease, stroke, and cancer. A major goal is to validate new imaging biomarkers of disease progression and build novel MRI tracers that highlight pathological aspects of a disease process. These studies involve a highly integrated team with expertise in physics, chemistry, cell biology, and medicine. Physiological and metabolic biomarkers of disease progression may have greater sensitivity to tissue damage than the imaging of structural changes.

Brain Phantom MRI Scan

Research Questions

Can Alzheimer disease be detected by MRI before subjects begin to experience cognitive decline?

Early detection of Alzheimer disease before brain damage has occurred.
Monitoring of treatment response in Alzheimer disease.

Do metabolic changes in the brain precede structural changes induced by disease?

Early detection of Alzheimer disease and cancer , evaluation of tissue viability in acute stroke.

Development of new targeted MRI contrast agents to image specific disease processes.

Widespread applications in many diseases including cancer, Alzheimer disease, and stroke.


• BSc in Physics, University of Waterloo, 1993
• PhD in Medical Biophysics, University of Western Ontario, 1998


• PDF, Robarts Research Institute, 2001
• PDF, Centre for Magnetic Resonance Research, University of Minnesota, 2000


• Premier’s Research Excellence Award, 2003
• Ivy-BMO Financial Groups Brain Disorders Imaging Award, 2005-2012
• Dean's Award of Excellence, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Team Award, Biomedical Imaging Research Centre (BIRC), 2014
• Teaching Honour Roll Award of Excellence, University Students Council, The University of Western Ontario, 2014-2015


Complete List of Published Work in MyBibliography is

1. D Wong, A Schranz, R Bartha. Optimal echo time for in-vivo glutamate detection at 7T using semi-LASER iH-MRS (2018). In Press NMR in Biomedicine.

2. M Albatany, S Meakin, R Bartha. The monocarboxylate transporter inhibitor Quercetin induces intracellular acidification in a mouse model of Gliobastoma Multiforme: In-vivo detection using magnetic resonance imaging. Investigational New Drugs August 2018. [Epub ahead of print].

3. M Albatany, A Li, S Meakin, R Bartha. In vivo detection of acute intracellular acidification in glioblastoma multiforme following a single dose of cariporide. Journal of Clinical Oncology May 2018. [Epub ahead of print].

4. A Schranz, KY Manning, GA Dekaban, L Fischer, T Jevremovic, K Blackney, C Barreira, T Doherty, D Fraser, A Brown, J Holmes, RS Menon, R Bartha. Reduced brain glutamine in female varsity rugby athletes after concession and in non-concussed athletes after a season of play. Human Brain Mapping 39(4):1489-1499, April 2018.

5. K Ryan, S Gonçalves, R Bartha, N Duggal. Motor network recovery in patients with chronic spinal cord compression using fMRI: A longitudinal study. Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine 28(4):379-388, April 2018.

6. M Albatany, A Li, S Meakin, R Bartha. Dichloroacetate induced intracellular acidification in glioblastoma: In-vivo detection using AACID-CEST MRI at 9.4 Tesla. Journal of Neuro-Oncology 136(2):255-262, January 2018.

7. JA Snir, M Suchý, FA Bindseil, M Kovacs, BA Chronik, RHE Hudson, SH Pasternak, R Bartha. An aspartyl cathepsin targeted PET agent: Application in an Alzheimer disease mouse model. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (JAD) 61(3):1241-1252, January 2018.

8. S Kazemifar, K Manning, N Rajakumar, FA Gomez, A Soddu, MJ Borrie, RS Menon, R Bartha. Spontaneous low frequency BOLD signal variations from resting-state fMRI are decreased in Alzheimer disease. PLoS One 12(6):e178529 June 2017.

9. I Aleksanderek, TK Stevens, S Gonçalves, R Bartha, N Duggal. Metabolic and functional profile of cervical spondylotic myelopathy patients. Journal of Neurosurgery 26(5):547-553, May 2017.

10. I Aleksanderek, SM McGregor, TK Stevens, S Gonçalves, R Bartha, N Duggal. Cervical spondylotic myelopathy: Metabolite changes in the primary motor cortex after surgery. Radiology 282(3):817-825, March 2017.

11. K Marathe, N McVicar, A Li, M Bellyou, S Meakin, R Bartha. Topiramate induces acute intracellular acidification in gliobalastoma. Journal of Neuro-Oncology 130(3):465-472, December 2016.

12. S Gonçalves, TK Stevens, P Doyle-Pettypiece, R Bartha, N Duggal.  N-acetylaspartate in the motor and sensory cortices following functional recovery after surgery for cervical spondylotic myelopathy.  Journal of Neurosurgery-Spine 25(4):436-443, October 2016.

13. JA Snir, M Suchý, KS Lawrence, RH Hudson, SH Pasternak, R Bartha.  Prolonged in-vivo retention of a Cathepsin D targeted optical contrast agent in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.  Journal of Alzheimer's Disease 48(1):73-87, August 2015.

14. A Farag, JC Peterson, T Szekeres, G Bauman, J Chin, C Romagnoli, R Bartha, TJ Scholl.  Unshielded asymmetric transmit-only and endorectal receive-only radiofrequency coil for (23) Na MRI of the prostate at 3 tesla.  Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging  42(2): 436-445, August 2015.

15. J Penner, R Bartha. Semi-LASER H-1 MR spectroscopy at 7 Tesla in human brain: Metabolite quantification incorporating subject-specific macromolecule removal.  Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 74(1):4-12, July 2015.

16. N McVicar, AX Li, S Meakin, R Bartha.  Imaging chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) effects following tumor-selective acidification using lonidamine. NMR in Biomedicine 28(5):566-575, May 2015.

17. J Penner, JL Wells, MJ Borrie, SM Woolmore-Goodwin, R Bartha.  Reduced N-Acetylaspartate to creatine ratio in the posterior cingulate correlates with cognition in Alzheimer's disease following four months of rivastigmine treatment. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders 39(1-2):68-80, January 2015.

18. S Kazemifar, JJ Drozd, N Rajakumar, MJ  Borrie, R Bartha.  Automated algorithm to measure changes in medial temporal lobe volume in Alzheimer disease.  Journal of Neuroscience Methods 227(35-46), April 2014.

19. N McVicar, A Li, S Gonçalves, M Bellyou, S Meakin, M Prado, R Bartha.  Quantitative tissue pH measurement during cerebral ischemia using amine and amide concentration-independent detection (AACID) with MRI.  Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism  34(4):690-698, April 2014.

20. G Öz, JR Alger, PB Barker, R Bartha, A Bizzi, C Boesch, PJ Bolan, KM Brindle, C Cudalbu, A Dincer, U Dydak, UE Emir, J Frahm, RG González, S Gruber, R Gruetter, RK Gupta, A Heerschap, A Henning, HP Hetherington, FA Howe, PS Hüppi, RE Hurd, K Kantarci, DWJ Klomp, R Kreis, MJ Kruiskamp, MO Leach, AP Lin, PR Luijten, M Marjańska, AA Maudsley, DJ Meyerhoff, CE Mountford, SJ Nelson, MN Pamir, JW Pan, AC Peet, H Poptani, S Posse, PJW Pouwels, E-M Ratai, BD Ross, TWJ Scheenen, C Schuster, ICP Smith, BJ Soher, I Tkáč, DB Vigneron, RA Kauppinen.  Clinical proton MR spectroscopy in central nervous system disorders.  Radiology 270(3):658-679, March 2014.

21. C Annweiler, B Brugg, J-M Peyrin, R Bartha, and O Beauchet.  Combination of memantine and vitamin D prevents axon degeneration induced by amyloid-beta and glutamate.  Neurobiology of Aging 35(2):331-335, February 2014.

22. N McVicar, AX Li, M Suchý, RHE Hudson, RS Menon, R BarthaSimultaneous in-vivo pH and temperature mapping using a PARACEST-MRI contrast agent. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 70(4):1016-1025, October 2013.

23. B Kolisnyk, M Al-Onaizi, PH Hirata, MS Guzman, S Nikolova, S Barbash, H Soreq, R Bartha, MA Prado, and VF Prado.  Forebrain Deletion of the Vesicular Acetylcholine Transporter Results in Deficits in Executive Function, Metabolic and RNA Splicing Abnormalities in the Prefrontal Cortex. Journal of Neuroscience 33(37):14908-14920 September 2013.

24. R Ta, M Suchý, JH Tam, AX Li, FS Martinez-Santiesteban, TJ Scholl, RHE Hudson, R Bartha, SH Pasternak. A dual magnetic resonance imaging/fluorescent contrast agent for cathepsin-D detection. Contrast Media and Molecular Imaging 8(2):127-139, March 2013.

25. AF Khan, JJ Drozd, RK Moreland, RM Ta, MJ Borrie, R Bartha. A Novel MRI-Compatible brain ventricle phantom for validation of segmentation and volumetry methods.  Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging 36(2):476-482, August 2012.

26. I Kowalczyk, N Duggal, R Bartha. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy of the motor cortex in cerival myelopathy. Brain 135 (Pt 2):461-468, February 2012.

27. AX Li, M Suchý, C Li, JS Gati, S Meakin, RHE Hudson, R Menon, R Bartha. In vivo detection of MRI-PARACEST agents in mouse brain tumors at 9.4 tesla. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 66(1):67-72, July 2011.

28. R Rupsingh, M Borrie, M Smith, J Wells, R Bartha. Reduced hippocampal glutamate in Alzheimer disease. Neurobiology of Aging 32(5):802-810, May 2011.

29. J Near, R Bartha. Quantitative sodium MRI of the mouse prostate. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 63(3):822-827, March 2010.

30. J Penner, R Rupsingh, M Smith, JL Wells, MJ Borrie, R Bartha. Increased glutamate in the hippocampus after galantamine treatment for Alzheimer disease. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry 34(1):104-110, February 2010.

31. AX Li, RHE Hudson, JW Barrett, C Jones, S Pasternak, R Bartha. Four-pool modeling of proton exchange processes in biological systems in the presence of MRI-paramagnetic chemical exchange saturation transfer (PARACEST) agents. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 60(5):1197-1206, November 2008.

32. SM Nestor, R Rupsingh, M Borrie, M Smith, V Accomazzi, J Wells, J Fogarty, R Bartha. Ventricular enlargement as a possible measure of Alzheimer’s disease progression validated using the Alzheimer’s disease neuroimaging initiative database. Brain 131(9):  2443-2454, September 2008.

Contact Info

Robarts Research Institute
Western University

phone: (519) 663-5777 x 24039