Director: Zhi-Pei Liang, PhD

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Liang Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) was established in 1993 when he joined the Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, with the help and guidance of late Nobel Laureate Paul C. Lauterbur (Liang’s postdoctoral advisor). The primary goal of the lab is to develop advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods for biomedical applications and to train next generation of imaging scientists and engineers.

Since its inception in the early 1970s, MRI has developed into a premier tool for biomedical imaging which has revolutionized radiology and medicine over the last four decades. Nonetheless, MRI is far from being a mature field due to the flexibility and potential of the nuclear spin systems.

Liang’s lab has been focused on advancing the capabilities of MRI to better understand, detect and diagnose human diseases, and to make medicine more precise and predictable. To this end, Liang’s lab pioneered a new imaging framework (often known as constrained imaging or model-based imaging) that tightly integrates physics, signal processing, and machine learning. Based on this framework, several advanced MRI methods have been developed, which have enabled real-time cardiac imaging and ultrafast spectroscopic imaging that promises to provide an unprecedented tool for label-free molecular imaging of brain function and neurodegenerative diseases.

On-going research projects in Liang’s lab include:

  • Fast imaging with sparse sampling of (k, t)-space 
  • Contrained image reconstruction from limited, noisy data using efficient mathematical models (e.g., low-rank matrices and tensors and union of subspaces models), physics-based models (e.g., spatiospectral models with spectral basis functions generated by quantum simulations), and learning-based models (e.g., image prior models learned using deep learning)
  • Learning-based analysis of multimodal, multidimensional images
  • Ultrafast MR spectroscopic imaging
  • Biomedical applications (e.g., multimodal brain mapping and cancer imaging)

Liang’s lab has trained more than 40 students who have become technical leaders in academia and industry. For more information about the lab, please visit