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Thomas M. Ernst, Dr. rer. nat.

Academic Title:


Primary Appointment:

Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine

Additional Title:

Technical Director, MD Center for Advanced Imaging Research (MCAIR)

Phone (Primary):

(410) 706-1045

Education and Training

  • University of Freiburg, Germany, Physics, B.S., 1983
  • University of Freiburg, Germany, Physics, M.S., 1985
  • University of Freiburg, Germany, Physics, PhD, 1990
  • HMRI and Caltech, Pasadena, CA, MR Spectroscopy, Post-Doctoral Fellow, 1992


Dr. Ernst is Technical Director of the Center for Advanced Imaging Research (CAIR). He is a Magnetic Resonance (MR) Physicist with a broad expertise in imaging physics. Dr. Ernst has worked on the development of MR methods for more than 20 years, and has been involved with commercialization as well. He is directing a multi-institutional Bioengineering Research Program (BRP) to develop prospective motion correction techniques for the acquisition of artifact-free brain MR images in subjects who move during the scans.

Additionally, he is one of the PIs at UMSOM of the nationwide Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, which will follow brain development in over 10,000 children from ages 9 through 20 years. Dr. Ernst has also been in charge of the technical aspects of several multi-center MR studies, and was co-PI for the NIDA-funded multi-center "PING"” study to determine how genes and environment influence brain development in 1,400 children.

The major focus of clinical research applications involves the effects of drugs of abuse and HIV on the brain. He also have a long-standing interest in neonatal and pediatric imaging, both in the context of normal and abnormal brain development.


Research/Clinical Keywords

MRI, MR Spectroscopy, MR Physics, Prospective Motion Correction, Brain Development, Pediatric MRI, Drug Abuse, HIV Brain Injury

Highlighted Publications

Zahneisen B, Keating B, Singh A , Herbst M, Ernst T. Reverse Retrospective Motion Correction. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 2016 Jun;75(6):2341-9. doi: 10.1002/mrm.25830. Epub 2015 Jul 3. PMID:26140504.

Herbst M, Zahneisen B, Knowles B, Zaitsev M, Ernst T. Prospective Motion Correction of Segmented Diffusion Weighted EPI. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 74(6): 1675–1681 (2015). PMID: 25446934. Editor’s Pick December 2015

Zahneisen B, Ernst T, Poser BA. SENSE and Simultaneous Multi Slice Imaging. Magn Reson Med 74(5):1356-62 (2015). doi: 10.1002/mrm.25519. PMC4420716. Editor’s Pick November 2015.

Chang L, Løhaugen G, Andres T, Jiang C, Douet V, Tanizaki N, Lee K, Castillo D, Lim A, Skranes J, Miller E, Ernst T. Improved Brain Function after Working Memory Training in HIV Patients. Annals of Neurology 2017 Jan; 81(1):17-34. doi: 10.1002/ana.24805. Epub 2016 Dec 28. PMID:27761943; PMC5299494 [Open Access]

Gumus K, Keating B, Poser BA, Armstrong B, Chang L, Maclaren J, Prieto T, Speck O, Zaitsev M, and Ernst T. Prevention of Motion-Induced Signal Loss in Diffusion-Weighted EPI by Dynamic Restoration of Gradient Moments. Magn Reson Med Jun;71(6):2006-2013 (2014). PMID: 23821373.

Kim J, Zhu W, Chang L, Bentler PM, Ernst T. Unified structural equation modeling approach for the analysis of multisubject, multivariate functional MRI data. Human Brain Mapping 2007 Feb;28(2):85-93.

Ernst T, Chang L, Jovicich J, Ames N, Arnold S, Abnormal Brain Activation on Functional MRI in Cognitively Asymptomatic HIV Patients, Neurology 59, 1343-1349 (2002).

Ernst T, Chang L, Melchor R, Mehringer C.M, Fronto-Temporal Dementia and Early Alzheimer Disease: Differentiation with Frontal Lobe 1H MR Spectroscopy, Radiology 203, 829-836 (1997).

Ernst T, Chang L, Leonido-Yee M, Speck O, Evidence for Long-Term Neurotoxicity Associated with Methamphetamine Use: A 1H MRS Study, Neurology 54, 1344-1349 (2000). Google

Ernst T, Kreis R, Ross B.D, Absolute Quantitation of Water and Metabolites in the Human Brain; Part I: Compartments and Water, J. Magn. Res. B102, 1-8 (1993)

Research Interests

  • MR Physics
  • MR Spectroscopy (MRS)
  • Prospective Motion Correction for MRI and MRS
  • Neonatal MRI
  • Pediatric MRI
  • Effects of Drug Abuse on the Human Brain using MRI
  • Effects of HIV Infection on the Human Brain using MRI

Awards and Affiliations

  • 2011: Fellow of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM)   
  • 2013: Deputy Editor, Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (MRM)
  • 2017: Adjunct Professor, Dept of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • 2017: Adjunct Professor, Dept of Medicine, University of Hawaii School of Medicine

Grants and Contracts

RGR-based Motion Tracking for Real-time Adaptive MR Imaging and Spectroscopy
Ernst (PI)

NIDA/NIH - Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) at University of Maryland Baltimore (MPI)
MPI: Chang / Ernst

NIDA/ NIH - Neural Correlates of Working Memory Training for HIV
PI: Chang

Community Service

  • 2014-2017: University of Hawaii, FDP Faculty Representative
  • 2015-2017: University of Hawaii, Research Advisory Committee for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research

Professional Activity

  • 2001: Reviewer, DOE SBIR program
  • 2001: Reviewer, NIMH Special Emphasis Panel
  • 2002: Reviewer, NCRR Special Emphasis Panel
  • 2002: Reviewer, "Neuroimaging technology development to assess brain and behavior in pediatric populations" initiative.
  • 2004: Reviewer, NIAID Special Emphasis Panel
  • 2004: Reviewer, NIH “Bioengineering Research Partnership” program
  • 2007: Reviewer, NPAS study section
  • 2008: Reviewer, NIDA-L study section
  • 2006–2008: Reviewer, NIH SBIB-J study section (“In Vivo Imaging and Bioengineering Research”)
  • 2009: Reviewer, NIH (BRP ZRG1 SBIB-V 950)
  • 2010: Reviewer, NIH/NCI
  • 2011: Reviewer, NIH (SBIB Pediatric and Fetal Applications / Special Emphasis Panel)
  • 2012: Reviewer, NIH (SBIB Pediatric and Fetal Applications / Special Emphasis Panel)
  • 2013: Reviewer, NIH (SBIB Pediatric and Fetal Applications / Special Emphasis Panel)
  • 2011-present: Scientific Advisory Board, Translational Methamphetamine AIDS Research Center (TMARC), UCSD
  • 2011-present: Deputy Editor, Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (MRM)

Links of Interest

Employment History

  • 1993-1994 - Senior Research Scientist, MR Center, University Hospital Freiburg, Germany
  • 1994-2000 - Assistant Professor, Depts. of Radiology & Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine
  • 2000-2004 - Scientist, Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL)
  • 2004-2017 - Professor, Dept. of Medicine, University of Hawaii
  • 2015-2017 - Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Physics, University of Hawaii