Vanderbilt University
Institute of Imaging Science

Rachelle Crescenzi, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences

Contact Information
(615) 343-7182


My research interests revolve around understanding how lymphatic circulation is involved in regulating tissue sodium, protein, and fat accumulation in health and disease. To this end, my lab focuses on standardizing and optimizing multi-nuclear proton and sodium 1H/23Na magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologies for measuring tissue sodium and vascular function noninvasively across a range of field strengths (3T, 7T, 9.4T, 15T). I'm also interested in the biological basis of sodium MRI signal and related MR relaxometry (T2 and T1rho).


The overarching goal of my lab is to improve the lives of patients with understudied vascular diseases, with an emphasis on those that impact women's health, through imaging sciences and multidisciplinary collaborations. Current research projects focus on developing advanced imaging tools to address clinical needs for 1) objective diagnostic criteria for lipedema, 2) risk assessment for lymphedema and fibrosis secondary to lymph node removal, and 3) radiologic markers of salt sensitive blood pressure. The relevance of lymphatic networks to obesity and salt sensitive hypertension are also being explored in pre-clinical and clinical studies.
We build strong collaborations with scientists and physicians at VUIIS, VUMC Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, Vanderbilt University Department of Biomedical Engineering, Vanderbilt Dayani Center for Health and Wellness, Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute, Vanderbilt Translational and Clinical Cardiovascular Research Center, VUMC Departments of Nephrology and Clinical Pharmacology, as well as extramural collaborators.
For more information regarding available position in the lab please contact me at
For patients who may be interested in learning more about our research studies please contact us at
A complete list of Dr. Crescenzi's publications can be found at:


Petersen KJ, Garza M, Donahue PMC, Harkins KD, Marton A, Titze J, Donahue MJ, Crescenzi R. Neuroimaging of Cerebral Blood Flow and Sodium in Women with Lipedema. Obesity (Silver Spring). Jul 2020;28(7):1292-1300. doi:10.1002/oby.22837

Crescenzi R, Donahue PMC, Petersen KJ, Garza M, Patel N, Lee C, Beckman JA, Donahue MJ. Upper and Lower Extremity Measurement of Tissue Sodium and Fat Content in Patients with Lipedema. Obesity (Silver Spring). May 2020;28(5):907-915. doi:10.1002/oby.22778

Crescenzi R, Donahue PMC, Braxton VG, Scott AO, Donahue MJ. 3.0T relaxation time measurements of human lymph nodes in adults with and without lymphatic insufficiency: implications for magnetic resonance lymphatic imaging. NMR in Biomedicine. 2018; e4009.

Crescenzi R, Marton A, Donahue PM, Mahany HB, Lants SK, Wang P, Beckman JA, Donahue MJ, Titze J. Tissue Sodium Content is Elevated in the Skin and Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue in Women with Lipedema. Obesity. 2018 Feb;26(2):310-317. doi: 10.1002/oby.22090. PMID: 29280322.

Crescenzi R, Donahue PM, Hartley KG, Desai AA, Scott AO, Braxton V, Mahany HB, Lants SK, Donahue MJ. Lymphedema Evaluation Using Noninvasive 3T MR Lymphangiography. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging. 2017 Nov;46(5):1349-1360. doi: 10.1002/jmri.25670. PMID: 28245075.