New R01 From National Institutes of Health Awarded to Dr. Diego Jaramillo

Dr. Diego Jaramillo

Diego Jaramillo, MD, MPH, professor of radiology at CUIMC and director of MRI at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital.

Diego Jaramillo, MD, MPH, professor of radiology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and director of MRI at New York-Presbyterian (NYP) Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, has secured a five-year grant totaling more than three million dollars for his project, “Understanding Skeletal Growth Using Diffusion Tensor Imaging of the Physis and Metaphysis”.

The multi-institutional study led by Dr. Jaramillo will take place at CUIMC/NYP, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and New York University. Co-investigators from Columbia University include Sachin Jambawalikar, PhD, assistant professor of radiology at CUIMC and Sairam Geethanath, PhD, associate research scientist in the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.

Dr. Jaramillo and his team will investigate growth plate function using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to predict height velocity, growth potential, and response to growth hormone therapy in children. Three cohorts of children and adolescents at different stages of growth will be enrolled in the study.

Diffusion tensor imaging of the growth plate.

Coronal tractographys of the distal femoral physis and metaphysis in a healthy adolescent. There are abundant parallel tracts extending from the physis to the metaphysis. They are shorter in the middle of the femur, where growth is slower. 

“There is an urgent clinical need for a better tool to understand and predict growth potential,” said Dr. Jaramillo, explaining that accurate prediction of growth potential is crucial to identifying who will benefit from growth-enhancing treatment and facilitating decisions about surgical approaches to common pediatric orthopedic conditions such as leg length discrepancy, scoliosis, and ligamentous injuries.

DTI is an MRI-based technique that depicts the movement of water through tissues, allowing a precise view of tissue structure without having to image at a microscopic level. DTI is primarily used for brain imaging, but Dr. Jaramillo and his team have pioneered the use of DTI to probe the structure and function of the growth plate (or physis) and provide markers that can benefit children with growth disorders by anticipating shortening or deformity.

With this longitudinal study, Dr. Jaramillo plans to validate DTI of the physis and metaphysis (DTI-P/M) as a tool to predict change in height and final height gain. This will allow precision therapy with growth enhancing medications and improved timing of orthopedic procedures.


Additional Information

Dr. Jaramillo would like to acknowledge the many people in the Department of Radiology who helped make this grant successful, especially Dr. Lawrence Schwartz, James Picker Professor of Radiology and chair of the Department of Radiology; Krishnakumar Iyer, grants manager; and Tavis Allison, scientific research and communications writer.