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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: Cristina Millan
Alternate Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 308593
Alternate Email: cristina.millan@sickkids.ca

For more information, visit:

Visit the Santyr Lab website

Brief Biography

Dr. Giles Santyr is a medical biophysicist working with physicians and engineers to develop new techniques for imaging the lungs of children. 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 gas MRI methods provide an opportunity to boost the signal from the lung and provide unique insight into respiratory anatomy and physiology without ionizing radiation.

Dr. 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 pioneer 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.

He joined The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) as a senior scientist in 2013 where he develops new MRI approaches to study the lungs of children and new-borns. The Santyr lab is currently focusing on the use of hyperpolarized xenon-129, an inert gas with a strong MRI signal, to explore the lung – from the major airways down to the very smallest alveoli.  Xenon-129 MRI can potentially allow safer, earlier and more accurate diagnosis and long-term monitoring of disease progression and treatment response. This research is expected to have a significant impact on the way physicians detect, diagnose and treat lung diseases in children and new-borns, such as cystic fibrosis, asthma and lung injury.

Research Interests

Santyr’s current research program focuses on the development of hyperpolarized xenon-129 and proton MRI for anatomical and functional imaging of the paediatric lung. He is specifically interested in quantitative imaging of lung morphology, ventilation, perfusion, gas exchange and inflammation in lung diseases afflicting children and animal models of these diseases, including novel treatments such as stem cells. Current research interests include:

  • development of novel technologies for lung MRI in children, including new-borns
  • assessment of radiation and ventilator-induced lung injuries using xenon-129 MRI
  • development of new MRI approaches for assessing disease progression and therapeutic response in pediatric cystic fibrosis and severe asthma
  • application of structual and functional MRI to understanding bronchopulmonary dysplasia in humans and animal models
  • use of MRI for monitoring of novel lung stem cell treatments


  • Kanhere N., M. Couch, J. Rayment, F. Ratjen and G. Santyr, Reply from Authors of Correlation of LCI with Hyperpolarized 129Xe Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Pediatric CF Subjects, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2017 (e-pub ahead of print).
  • Zanette B., E. Stirrat, S. Jelveh, A. Hope and G. Santyr, Detection of Regional Radiation-Induced Lung Injury using Hyperpolarized 129Xe Chemical Shift Imaging in a Rat Model involving Partial Lung Irradiation: Proof-of-Concept Demonstration, Advances in Radiation Oncology. 2(3): 475-484 (2017).
  • Kanhere N., M. Couch, K. Kowalik, B. Zanette, J. Rayment, D. Manson, P. Subbarao, F. Ratjen and G. Santyr, Correlation of LCI with Hyperpolarized 129Xe Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Pediatric CF Subjects, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2017 Feb 28. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201611-2228LE.
  • Ouriadov A. and G. Santyr, High Spatial Resolution Hyperpolarized 3He MRI of the Rodent Lung using a Single Breath x-Centric Gradient-Recalled Echo Approach, Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 2017 Jan 23. doi: 10.1002/mrm.26602.
  • Rayment J, N. Kanhere, K. Kowalik, M. Couch, B. Kavanagh, F. Ratjen and G. Santyr, Correlation of Lung Clearance Index With Hyperpolarized 129Xe Pulmonary MRI in Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis. Pediatr Pulmonol 2016;51(S45):286.
  • Doganay O., E. Stirrat, C.A. McKenzie, R.F. Schulte and G. Santyr, Quantification of Regional Early Stage Gas Exchange Changes using Hyperpolarized 129Xe MRI in a Rat Model of Radiation-Induced Lung Injury, Medical Physics 2016 May;43(5):2410. doi: 10.1118/1.4946818.
  • 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 45B(3): 115-124 (2015).
  • Doganay O., T. Wade, E. Hegarty, K. Wawrzyn, R.F. Schulte, C.A. McKenzie and G. Santyr,
    Hyperpolarized 129Xe MRI of the Lung using Spiral IDEAL
    , Magn. Reson. Med. 2015 Aug 29. DOI: 10.1002/mrm.25911
  • 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.
  • Ouriadov A., A. Farag, M. Kirby, D.G. McCormack, G. Parraga and G. 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).