UK Student Earns Halcomb Fellowship for Research Merging Physics and Medicine

University of Kentucky medical student and doctoral candidate Scott Thalman, who is developing novel imaging techniques for identifying early risk factors for sudden cardiac death, received the Halcomb Fellowship for researchers in medicine and engineering.

The fellowship supports a graduate student in the University of Kentucky Colleges of Engineering and Medicine who is involved in interdisciplinary research in the field of biomedical engineering.

Now a biomedical engineering student, Thalman studied solid-state physics at Brigham Young University before entering the joint medical degree and doctorate program at the University of Kentucky. Having completed his first two years of medical school, he is now helping to develop innovative techniques in cardiac imaging in the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) lab of Moriel Vandsburger. In place of standard MRI techniques, Thalman employs his expertise in physics to characterize clinical scans of the heart using magnetization transfer-weighted methods.

The lab group is testing a non-invasive technique to diagnose cardiac fibrosis in patients with chronic kidney disease who are unable to receive injected contrast agents. Cardiac fibrosis, the development of scar tissue in the heart, is a strong predictor of cardiovascular death, particularly in patients with renal failure.

“I want to be involved with people and projects that apply the engineering mindset to solve clinical problems,” Thalman said. “I hope to solve problems that my colleagues with a purely medical training might not be able to figure out.”

The Halcomb Fellowship was established by Dr. Joseph and Joan Halcomb of Camarillo, California.

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams, elizabethadams@uky.edu