James S Duncan PhD

Ebenezer K. Hunt Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Professor of Diagnostic Radiology and of Electrical Engineering; Director of Undergraduate Studies in Biomedical Engineering; Vice Chair, Bioimaging Sciences in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology

Biographical Info

James Duncan, the Ebenezer K. Hunt Professor of Biomedical Engineering, has focused his research and teaching in the areas of biomedical image processing and analysis. Duncan, who holds joint appointments in diagnostic radiology and electrical engineering, is the associate chair and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Biomedical Engineering as well as the vice-chair for bioimaging sciences research in diagnostic radiology. He is particularly interested in the use of model-based mathematical strategies for the analysis of biomedical images. He helped pioneer the use of geometrical models for segmenting deformable (typically anatomical) objects of approximately known shape and for tracking certain forms of non-rigid object motion, and later soft tissue deformation, most notably that of the heart. Duncan and his research team performed seminal work starting in 1987 on the use of parameterized global shape models to incorporate a notion of known prior object shape into the segmentation process using a Bayesian reasoning strategy, helping lead the way towards the use of strategies for automatically finding certain known anatomical structure from any of a variety of medical (e.g. computer tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound) and biological (e.g. confocal microscopy) images. The strategies he developed have resulted in major advances in bioimaging. He and his research collaborators have applied these strategies to locate the cortical gray matter layer and a variety of co-localized subcortical gray matter structures in the brain as well as to locate the structure near the prostate gland. More recently, Duncan’s team has begun to show that these same techniques will be useful for estimating gray matter-constrained activations from functional MRI data and could help guide the recovery of quantitative biochemical information from MR spectroscopy. Beginning in the late 1980s, Duncan also pioneered using shape features on the inner and outer surfaces of the heart wall as material tags for tracking left ventricular motion. This technique was successfully applied to other non-rigid tracking problems in cell biology and became the basis for a variety of efforts internationally. Duncan and his research team used this strategy for more sophisticated analysis in echocardiography. The team’s approach is now recognized in the medical-image-analysis community as among the first to incorporate true physical models into image analysis strategies and has helped develop a more general area of physical/biomechanical model-based re covery of both structural and functional information from biomedical images. Duncan’s laboratory has also developed initial forms of these techniques to estimate brain shift during epilepsy neurosurgery and guide fractionated prostate radiotherapy, among other uses. His work has resulted in three U.S. patents. Duncan is the principal investigator of major research funded by the National Institutes of Health. Before coming to Yale in 1983, he worked for Hughes Aircraft Company. He holds a B.S.E.E. from Lafayette College, an M.S. from the University of California at Los Angeles and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. Duncan is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. He is president of the International Society for Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention and is a member of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and the I.E.E.E. Computer Society, among other professional organizations.


International Activity

  • Utrecht, Netherlands (2011)
    Program Committee, International Conference on Volume Image Processing (VIP93)
  • Biomedical Image Analysis
    Oxford, United Kingdom (2010)
    Ongoing collaboration between Professor Duncan and Michael Brady of Oxford
  • Image Analysis and Image-Guided Surgery
    Zurich, Switzerland (2010)
    Collaboration between Professor Duncan and Professor Gabor Szekeley of ETH Zurich focusing on image analysis
  • Surgery Joint Research
    Germany (2008)
    Professor Duncan works with Rainer Birkenback of BrainLab, Munich, Germany. BrainLab is an image-guided surgery company who is a subcontractor on one of Duncan's large NIH grants. Professor Duncan has some joint publications with Brikenback, and BrainLab supplies equipment for Professor Duncan's laboratory.
  • Applied Mathematics Consultations
    France (2007 - 2007)
    Professor Duncan regularly consults with Nikos Paragios of the Ecole Centrale de Paris in France. Professor Paragios works in a variety of areas of applied mathematics, and the two regularly collaborate. Professor Paragios came to Yale in 2007 for 6 weeks.
  • Biomedical Image Analysis
    United Kingdom (2007)
    Professor Brady is a collaborator on an IGERT proposal sent by Professor Duncan to NSF in the areas of biology relevant to imaging as well as mathematical image analysis. Under the proposal, some of Professor Duncan's students travel to the Oxford laboratory for training. In addition, Professor Duncan was asked to serve as an adviser to a joint UK project in biomedical image analysis; that project was run by Professor Brady.
  • Image Analysis and Image-Guided Surgery
    Switzerland (2007)
    Professor Duncan listed Professor Gabor Szekeley of ETH Zurich as a collaborator on a recent IGERT proposal sent to NSF. Under the proposal, students from Duncan's laboratory will be sent to the ETH lab as part of the training program. In addition, Professor Duncan was asked to serve as an adviser to Professor Szekeley's Switzerland-wide Co-ME project, a large network of investigatory working on image-guided surgery.
  • Medical Image Analysis
    France (2007)
    Professor Duncan and Professor Nicholas Ayache of INRIA (the French National Research Laboratory) began and co-edit the Elsevier journal Medical Image Analysis. The two professors have served together on many advisory boards, and collaborate on some joint research. They are exploring collaborations via Mauna Kea Technologies, a company that does optical imaging.
  • Radiology and Comp Science Collaborations
    Netherlands; Netherlands (2007)
    Professor Duncan has maintained active collaborations at the Universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht. He serves on review boards for both Universities and has some ongoing collaborations with several professor at each, notably with the Radiology department at Utrecht and the Computer Science department at Amsterdam.
  • Hamburg, Germany (2002)
    Invited Lecture, “The Use of Physical Models in the Recovery of Soft Tissue Deformation from Medical Images,” The Virtual Human Body - State of the Art and Visions for Medicine, International Symposium
  • Program Committee, 12th International Conference on Information Processing in Medical Imaging
    Wye, England, United Kingdom (2000)
    Program Committee, 12th International Conference on Information Processing in Medical Imaging
  • Leipzig, Germany (1999 - 2000)
    Scientific Advisory Committee
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom (1999)
    Executive Committee, Medical Image Computing and Computer- Assisted Intervention (MICCAI)
  • (1997)
    General Chair, International Conference on Information Processing in Medical Imaging (IPMI)

Education & Training

B.S.E.E.
Lafayette College (1973)
M.S.
UCLA (1975)
Ph.D.
University of Southern California (1982)

Honors & Recognition

  • Elected Fellow
    Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) (12/2000)
  • Best paper by a young investigator award- Honorable Mention (Francois Erbsmann Prize)
    16th International Conference on Information Processing in Medical Imaging (1999)
  • Frst place paper
    Northeast Bioengineering Conference, Kingston, RI (3/1992)
  • Elected Fellow
    American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (1999)
  • Best paper by a young investigator award- Honorable Mention (Francois Erbsmann Prize)
    13th International Conference on Information Processing in Medical Imaging (1993)
  • Honorable mention paper
    Northeast Bioengineering Conference (3/1992)
  • Fulbright Research Scholar Fellowship to the Netherlands
    (1993-1994)
  • Best paper by a young investigator award-First Place (Francois Erbsmann Prize)
    12th International Conference on Information Processing in Medical Imaging (1991)
  • Elected to Senior Member
    Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) (12/2000)
  • Visiting (full) Professor
    Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands (1991)
  • Individual Investigator Grant
    National Science Foundation (1996-1992)
  • Bioengineering Research Partnership (BRP)
    National Institutes of Health (1993-2005)
  • Bioengineering Research Partnership (BRP)
    National Institutes of Health (2006-present)
  • 12 Individual Investigator (R01) grants
    National Institutes of Health (1993-2005)
  • First Independent Research Support and Transition (FIRST) Award
    National Institutes of Health (1988-1993)
  • Yale Fluid Fund Research Award
    Yale University, New Haven, CT (1983)
  • Hughes Invention Award
    (1976)
  • Hughes Invention Awards
    (1980-1982)
  • Hughes Sta? Doctoral Fellowship
    (1979)
  • Hughes Engineer Degree Fellowship
    (1978)
  • Hughes Master’s Degree Fellowship
    (1973)

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