Robert Bartha


Acting Director, Strategy and Scientific Integration

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.

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

View all PubMed publications

Contact Info

Robarts Research Institute
Western University

Phone: 519-663-5777 ext. 24039