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Giles Santyr

Title: Senior Scientist, Translational Medicine
Designations: PhD, FCCPM
Phone: 416-813-1394
Alternate Contact Name: Julie Nadalin
Alternate Phone: 416-813-5775
Alternate Email:
U of T Positions: Professor, Department of Medical Biophysics


Dr. Giles Santyr is a medical biophysicist working with physicians and engineers to develop new techniques for imaging the lungs of children. He 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 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.  

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 newborns.


The Santyr lab is currently focusing on the use of hyperpolarized xenon-129 gas, an inert inhaled contrast agent with a strong MRI signal, to measure regional lung function in obstructive lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis and asthma. Xenon-129 is also able to probe the structure of the smallest airways (I.e. alveoli), as well as gas exchange between the alveoli and blood pool. This may be useful for revealing microstructural and gas exchange changes associated with lung diseases of prematurity, such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia.  

Current research interests include: 

  • Development of new xenon-129 and proton MRI approaches and biomarkers for assessing disease progression and therapeutic response in pediatric cystic fibrosis and severe asthma 
  • Application of structural and functional MRI to understanding bronchopulmonary dysplasia in humans and animal models 
  • Use of MRI for monitoring of novel lung stem cell treatments  
  • Development of novel technologies for neonatal lung MRI  
  • Assessment of radiation and ventilator-induced lung injuries using xenon-129 MRI 

Education and experience

  • 1985: B.Sc. Physics (Honours), Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada
  • 1990: PhD, Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 2004: FCCPM, Fellow, Canadian College of Physicists in Medicine 


  1. Couch M., R. Thomen, N. Kanhere, R. Hu, F. Ratjen, J. Woods and G. SantyrA Two-Center Analysis of Hyperpolarized 129Xe Lung MRI in Stable Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis: Potential as a Biomarker for Multi-site TrialsCyst. Fibrosis News (July, 2019).  
  2. Friedlander Y., B. Zanette, A. Lindemaier, S. Sadanand, D. Li., E. Stirrat, M. Couch, A. Kassner, R. Jankov and G. SantyrChemical Shift of 129Xe Dissolved in Red Blood Cells: Application to a Rat Model of Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia, MagnReson. Med. (e-pub ahead of print, October, 2019). 
  3. Couch M., F. Morgado, N. Kanhere, K. Kowalik, J. Rayment, F. Ratjen and G. SantyrHyperpolarized 129Xe Multiple Breath Wash-out MRI in Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis, revised for MagnReson. Med. (August, 2019). 
  4. Riberdy V., M. Litvack, E. Stirrat, M. Couch, M. Post and G. SantyrHyperpolarized 129Xe Imaging of Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Alveolar-Like Macrophages in Rat Lungs: Proof-of-Concept Study Using Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles, revised for MagnReson. Med. (June, 2019). 
  5. Zanette B. and G. SantyrAccelerated Interleaved Spiral-IDEAL Imaging of Hyperpolarized 129Xe for Parametric Gas Exchange Mapping in HumansMagnReson. Med. 2019 Sep; 82(3):1113-1119. doi10.1002/mrm.27765.  

Novel Approaches for Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Neonatal Lung Structure and Function. Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)Discovery Grant.

Ontario Network of Excellence for Translation of Hyperpolarized MRI TechnologiesOntario Research Fund – Research Excellence (ORF-RE) 

Hyperpolarized Technologies for New Therapies (HyPOINT) in Pediatric CF. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF, U.S.), Clinical Research Award

Novel Pulmonary Function Measures for Diagnosis of Bronchiolitis Obliterans Syndrome following Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation in ChildrenGarron Family Cancer Centre – Pitblado Clinical Research Award 

Centre for Advanced Paediatric Imaging and Therapy of Obesity and Lung (CAPITOL). Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) 

Structural and Functional MRI Assessment of Treatment Response in Early Cystic Fibrosis Lung Disease. Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Project Grant. 

Structural and Functional MRI in Preclinical Models of Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia. Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Project Grant. 

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