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About Sickkids
About SickKids

Christopher Macgowan, PhD

Research Institute
Senior Scientist
Translational Medicine

University of Toronto
Associate Professor
Departments of Medical Biophysics and Medical Imaging

Phone: 416-813-1069
Fax: 416-813-7362
Email: christopher.macgowan@sickkids.ca
Alternate Contact: Ms. Alessandra D'Ambrosio
Alternate Phone: 416-813-7654 ext.308593
Alternate Email: alessandra.dambrosio@sickkids.ca

For more information, visit:

Fetal MRI Research at SickKids

Brief Biography

Christopher Macgowan received his undergraduate degree in Honours Physics from the University of British Columbia (1989-1993). His graduate training was from the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto, where he received an M.Sc. and a PhD on the topic of blood flow measurement using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Macgowan was recruited to The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in 2000 to develop a research program in cardiovascular imaging. He is now a Senior Scientist in the Translational Medicine program and the Department of Diagnostic Imaging at SickKids, as well as an Associate Professor in the Departments of Medical Biophysics and Medical Imaging at the University of Toronto.

Research Interests

My research involves the development of new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods to improve the detection and evaluation of cardiovascular disease in children. In particular, I am interested in the measurement of blood flow and vascular function in congenital heart disease, and the translation of these methods into clinical practice. Previous work in my lab has involved the study of rapid (real-time) MRI measurements of blood flow, optimization of contrast-enhanced pulmonary MR angiography in children and image-processing methods to segment and classify pulmonary veins versus arteries. We have also investigated methods to assess pulmonary vascular impedance non-invasively using velocity-sensitive MR imaging, to better understand how patients with pulmonary hypertension respond to therapy.

Recent work in my lab has focused on cardiovascular physiology in the developing human fetus. Using advanced MRI methods, we are mapping the distribution of blood flow throughout the feto-placental circulation and measuring the oxygen saturation of blood supplied to the fetus. The creation of an image processing approach (metric-optimized gating) that has enabled the first dynamic MR images of the fetal heart and blood flow has been critical to this work.

External Funding

  • National Institutes of Health-Environmental factors in placental pathology: a new diagnostic method based on umbilical vessel wave mechanics
  • Wellcome Trust – Innovative Engineering for Health:  A computer-guided imaging system for prenatal screening and comprehensive diagnosis of fetal abnormalities
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research-Advanced MRI methods for early evaluation of placental dysfunction and fetal response to therapy


  • Top Abstract Award (co-author) - 25th World Congress on Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology 2015.
  • Young Investigator Award Finalist - Basic Science Category (W.S. Moore Award ) (senior responsibile author), International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, 2013.
  • Honourable Mention, Clinical Science Category (co-author) – International Paediatric Radiology Congress and Exhibition, 2011.


Roy CW, Seed M, Macgowan CK. Accelerated Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Fetal Heart Using Compressed Sensing and Metric Optimized Gating  Magn. Reson. Med. (2016) – doi:10.1002/mrm.26290

Portnoy S, Osmond M, Zhu MY, Seed M, Sled J, Macgowan CK.  Relaxation Properties of Human Umbilical Cord Blood at 1.5 Tesla  Magn. Reson. Med. (2016) – doi: 10.1002/mrm.26231

Zhu MY, Milligan N, Keating S, Windrim R, Keunen J, Thakur V, Ohman A, Portnoy S, Sled JG, Kelly E, Yoo SJ, Gross-Wortmann L, Jaeggi E, Macgowan CK, Kingdom JC, Seed M. The Hemodynamics of Late Onset Intrauterine Growth Restriction by MRI. Am J Obstet Gynecol. Oct 13 (2015). pii: S0002-9378(15)01267-3 – doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2015.10.004

Sun L, Macgowan CK, Sled JG, Manlhiot C, Porayette P, Grosse-Wortmann L, Jaeggi E, McCrindle BW, Kingdom J, Hickey E, Miller S, Seed M. Reduced Fetal Cerebral Oxygen Consumption Is Associated With Smaller Brain Size in Fetuses With Congenital Heart Disease. Circulation 131, 1313-1323 (2015) – doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.013051

Macgowan CK, Joy SJ, Zhou YQ, Cahill LS, Sled JG. Evaluation of cerebrovascular impedance and wave reflection in mouse by ultrasound J. Cereb. Blood Flow Metab. 35(3):521-6 (2015) – doi:10.1038/jcbfm.2014.229

Macgowan CK, Chan KY, Laughlin S, Marrie RA, Banwell B. Cerebral arterial and venous blood flow in pediatric multiple sclerosis patients and age-matched controls using phase contrast MRI. J. Magn. Reson. Imag. (2013) – doi:10.1002/jmri.24388

Prsa M, van Amerom JFP, Yoo SJ, Grosse-Wortmann L, Jaeggi E, Macgowan CK, Seed M. Normal ranges of blood flow in the major vessels of the normal human fetal circulation at term by phase contrast MRI. Circ. Cardiovasc. Imaging. (2014) – doi:10.1161/CIRCIMAGING.113.001859

Roy CW, Seed M, van Amerom JFP, Al Nasifi B, Grosse-Wortmann L, Yoo SJ, Macgowan CK. Dynamic imaging of the fetal heart using metric optimized gating. Magn. Reson. Med.   doi: 10.1002/mrm.24614 (2013)

Seed M, van Amerom JFP, Yoo SJ, Al Nafisi B, Grosse-Wortmann L, Jaeggi E, Jansz MS, Macgowan CK.  Feasibility of quantification of the distribution of blood flow in the normal human fetal circulation using CMR: a cross-sectional study. J. Cardiov. Magn. Reson. 14(79), (2012) – doi:10.1186/1532-429X-14-79 

Jansz MS, Seed M, van Amerom JFP, Wong D, Grosse-Wortmann L, Yoo SJ, Macgowan CK. Metric optimized gating for fetal cardiac MRI. Magn. Reson. Med. 64(5): 1304-1314 (2010)