Muyinatu Bell Receives Pathway to Independence Award

October 27, 2015

Muyinatu Bell

Muyinatu Bell

Minimally invasive endonasal transsphenoidal surgery involves grinding away sphenoidal bone in the nasal cavity to reach the pituitary tumors. The procedure carries serious risk of injury to the carotid arteries. Muyinatu Bell, a postdoctoral fellow in the LCSR, recently received the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)’s prestigious Pathway to Independence Award to help address this risk. Bell will be working with experts in interventional photoacoustics, optics, medical image analysis, neurosurgery, and the design of surgical systems to develop an imaging technology needed for real-time photoacoustic visualization of blood vessels to eliminate the risk of harming the carotid artery during surgery. She will be using beamforming theory along with commercially available optical equipment and ultrasound machines to form customized photoacoustic imaging systems. Testing of the system will be carried out on tissue-mimicking phantoms and models of the human head. After this phase of testing, a pilot study on patients undergoing transsphenoidal surgeries will be carried out. The project benefits from Bell’s experience in developing and implementing the first short-lag spatial coherence (SLSC) beamformer, along with Bell’s background in ultrasound physics and mechanical engineering.

Bell received a Bachelor of Science degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006 and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University in 2012. She also was an academic visitor at the Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden Hospital, focusing on using ultrasound imaging to help cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy by monitoring the natural movement of organs as the patient breathes.
Among her numerous awards are the Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, UNCF/Merck Graduate Dissertation and Postdoctoral Fellowships, the Whitaker International Fellowship, Duke Endowment Fellowship.

Bell’s research interests include ultrasonic imaging, photoacoustic imaging, coherence-based beamforming, image formation, image quality, light delivery systems, medical robotics, and image-guided interventions. Bell’s co-authored paper, System Integration and Preliminary In-Vivo Experiments of a Robot for Ultrasound Guidance and Monitoring during Radiotherapy, was the runner-up for the Best Paper Award at the IEEE 17th International Conference on Advanced Robotics in Istanbul, Turkey. The paper received honorable mention.

Bell enjoys mentoring and recently one of her students, Alicia Dagle, received the Best Presentation Award at the 2015 NSF Computational Sensing and Medical Robotics Research Experience for Undergraduates (CSMR REU) award ceremony at Johns Hopkins.

To learn more about Dr. Muyinatu Bell, visit


Laboratory for Computational Sensing + Robotics