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About Sickkids
About SickKids

Giles Santyr, PhD, FCCPM

Research Institute
Senior Scientist
Translational Medicine

University of Toronto
Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto

Phone: 416-813-1394
Email: giles.santyr@sickkids.ca
Alternate Contact: Alessandra D'Ambrosio
Alternate Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 308593
Alternate Email: alessandra.dambrosio@sickkids.ca

For more information, visit:


Brief Biography

Dr. Giles Santyr pursued undergraduate studies in physics at Queen’s University in Kingston and received his PhD in Medical Biophysics from the University of Toronto. He went on to work as a research associate and assistant scientist at the University of Wisconsin, where, he earned a National Cancer Institute FIRST award. Moving to Carleton University in Ottawa in 1995, he helped establish the Ottawa Medical Physics Institute and helped pioneered hyperpolarized xenon-129 for lung MRI in rodents. In 2004, he joined the Robarts Research Institute where he held a CIHR Industry-Partnered Chair award for Respiratory Imaging as the Director of the Robarts GE 3T MRI Facility. The Robarts team produced the first xenon-129 human lung images in Canada and the first carbon-13 lung images in the world. Santyr joined The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) as a senior scientist in 2013 where he is focusing on MRI approaches to study the lungs of children and young adults.

Santyr is a medical biophysicist working with physicians and engineers to pioneer new techniques for imaging the lungs. Current methods using X-rays or nuclear medicine imaging can help pinpoint disease but involve the use of ionizing radiation, which is a major drawback for assessments over time, especially in vulnerable populations like children and the elderly. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an attractive alternative but is challenging in the lung due to very low signal. New hyperpolarized MRI methods provide an opportunity to boost the signal from the lung and provide unique insight into respiratory function and metabolism without ionizing radiation.

Santyr’s lab is one of a handful in the world that is developing the use of hyperpolarized MRI with helium-3, xenon-129 and carbon-13 to allow the exploration of the lung – from the major airways down to the very smallest alveoli, allowing for safer, earlier and more accurate diagnosis and long-term tracking of disease progression and treatment response. His is the only group internationally using all three nuclei in both animal and human studies of the lung. This research is expected to have a significant impact on the way physicians detect, diagnose and treat lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis, asthma and lung injury.

Research Interests

Santyr’s current research program focuses on hyperpolarized xenon-129 and proton MRI of anatomical and functional lung tissue and cellular biomarkers, specifically: airway and lung parenchymal morphology, ventilation, perfusion, gas exchange and inflammatory cell trafficking in lung diseases afflicting children and animal models of these diseases. Current projects in progress or proposed include:

  • technology development for hyperpolarized paediatric lung MRI
  • clinical and preclinical xenon-129 MRI of radiation-induced lung injury
  • development of MRI approaches for tracking disease progression and therapeutic response in cystic fibrosis and asthma
  • use of MRI for understanding lung transplant and stem cell therapies


Doganay O., T. Wade, E. Hegarty, K. Wawrzyn, R.F. Schulte, C.A. McKenzie and G.E. Santyr Hyperpolarized 129Xe MRI of the Lung using Spiral IDEAL, Magn. Reson. Med. 2015 Aug. DOI: 10.1002/mrm.25911. [Epub ahead of print].

Ouriadov A., M. Fox, E. Hegarty, G. Parraga, E. Wong and G. Santyr Early Stage Radiation-Induced Lung Injury Detected with Hyperpolarized 129Xe Morphometry: Proof-of-concept Demonstration in a Rat Model, Magn. Reson. Med. 2015 July. DOI 10.1002/mrm.25825. [Epub ahead of print].

Doganay O., K. Thind, T. Wade, A. Ouriadov and G. Santyr Transmit-Only/Receive-Only Radiofrequency Coil Configuration for Hyperpolarized 129Xe Imaging of Rodent Lung, Concepts in MR Part B 45(3): 115-124 (2015).

Ouriadov A., A. Farag, M. Kirby, D.G. McCormack, G. Parraga and G.E. Santyr Pulmonary Hyperpolarized 129Xe Morphometry for Mapping Xenon Gas Concentrations and Alveolar Oxygen Partial Pressure:  Proof-of-concept Demonstration in Healthy and COPD Subjects, Magn. Reson. Med. 74(6): 1726-1732 (2015).

Santyr G., M. Fox, K. Thind, E. Hegarty, A. Ouriadov, M. Jensen, T. Scholl, J. VanDyk and E. Wong Anatomical, Functional and Metabolic MRI of Lung Injury using Hyperpolarized Nuclei, NMR in Biomedicine 27(12): 1515-1524 (2014).

Kirby M, A. Ouriadov, S. Svenningsen, A. Owrangi, A. Wheatley, R. Etemad-Rezai, G.E. Santyr, D.G. McCormack, G. Parraga, Hyperpolarized 3He and 129Xe MRI Apparent Diffusion Coefficients: Physiological Relevance in Older Never- and Ex-smokers, Physiological Reports 2(7): 1-15 (2014).

Fox M., A. Ouriadov, K. Thind, E. Wong, A. Hope and G.E. Santyr Detection of Radiation-Induced Lung Injury in Rats Using Dynamic Hyperpolarized 129Xe Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Medical Physics 41(7): 072302 (2014).

Thind K., M.D. Jensen, E. Hegarty, A.P. Chen, H. Lim, P. Martinez, J. VanDyk, E. Wong, T. Scholl and G.E. Santyr Mapping Metabolic Changes Associated with Early Radiation Induced Lung Injury post Conformal Radiotherapy using Hyperpolarized 13C-pyruvate Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopic Imaging, Radiotherapy and Oncology 110(2):  317-322 (2014).

Fox. M., A. Ouriadov and G.E. Santyr Comparison of Hyperpolarized 3He and 129Xe MR Imaging for Measurement of Absolute Ventilated Lung Volume in Rats, Magn. Reson. Med. 71:1130-1136 (2013).