Vanderbilt University
Institute of Imaging Science

Bruce Damon, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, and Molecular Physiology and Biophysics
Director, Chemical and Physical Biology PhD Program

Contact Information
(615) 322-8355


We use in vivo imaging and spectroscopy methods to advance the quantitative understanding of human physiology. We are particularly interested in learning about the structure and function of skeletal muscle and other metabolically important organs, such as the liver and brown adipose tissue. We develop new experimental approaches for studying these organs, and we conduct applied and translational physiology studies that help us to understand how the structure and function of these organs are altered in neuromuscular and metabolic disorders.


Structure and Function of Human Brown Adipose Tissue: About 10 years ago, several research groups published the unexpected finding that functional brown adipose tissue (BAT) exists in adult humans. Although there has been intensive research during the time since those discoveries, fascinating questions persist about BAT. These include BAT's potential involvement in processes such as the thermoregulatory response to cold, weight maintenance, and lipid and glucose homeostasis; how these functions are controlled physiologically; and how BAT interacts with other organs in the body during the period following a meal and during cold exposure. In this project, we aim to advance both the technology available for studying BAT and our understanding of of its role in metabolic disease. Structure and Function of Human Skeletal Muscle: At every level of biological complexity, muscle structure significantly influences muscle function. These properties include the intermediate-scale relationships known as muscle architecture: the shape and orientation of a muscle's fibers with respect to its mechanical line of action. Our understanding of how muscle architecture affects muscle function remains incomplete, however, and our tools for studying these relationships are insufficiently developed. As a result, there are critical gaps in our understanding of how pathologically altered muscle architecture in diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy may impair muscle function and even elevate the risk of future injury. In this project, we aim to advance both the technology available for studying human skeletal muscle architecture and our understanding of structure-function relationships in muscle.


Elder CP, Cook RN, Chance MA, Copenhaver EA, Damon BM. (2010). Image-based calculation of perfusion and oxyhemoglobin saturation in skeletal muscle during submaximal isometric contractions. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. 64:852-861. Damon BM, Froeling M, Buck AKW, Oudeman J, Ding Z, Nederveen A, Bush EC, Strijkers GJ. (2017). Skeletal muscle DT-MRI fiber tracking: Rationale, data acquisition and analysis methods, applications, and future directions. NMR in Biomedicine. 30:e3563, doi: 10.1002/nbm.3563.

Sanchez OA, Copenhaver EA, Elder CP, Damon BM. (2010). Absence of a significant extravascular contribution to the skeletal muscle BOLD effect at 3T. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, 64:527-535.

Heemskerk AM, Sinha TK, Wilson KJ, Ding Z, Damon BM. (2010). Repeatability of DTI-based muscle fiber tracking. NMR in Biomedicine, 23:294-303.

Louie EA, Gochberg DF, Does MD, Damon BM. (2009). Transverse relaxation and magnetization transfer in skeletal muscle: Effect of pH. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, 61:560-569.

Damon BM, Hornberger JL Wadington MC, Lansdown DA, Kent-Braun JA. (2007). Dual gradient-echo MRI of post-contraction changes in skeletal muscle blood volume and oxygenation. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, 57:670-679.