A photo of Laura Walkup.

Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


Biography & Affiliation


My areas of interest for research include pulmonary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), hyperpolarized gas, rare lung diseases and pulmonary complications following bone marrow transplantation. My background and graduate school training are in hyperpolarized noble gas chemistry and physics. I have a desire to perform research that tells clinicians and researchers more about early lung disease, how lung disease changes over time and with treatment and has direct clinical benefit to individual patients.

The overarching goal of my lab is to develop and validate novel MRI techniques for visualizing and quantifying regional lung structure-function relationships in pediatric and adult lung diseases. With the use of techniques such as proton ultra-short echo-time (UTE) and hyperpolarized xenon-129 (129Xe) gas MRI, the pathophysiological mechanisms of rare lung diseases can be described. Because MRI is free of ionizing radiation, biomarkers from MRI are used to assess treatment response, especially in rare diseases with limited patient numbers. These findings can inform more individualized clinical care for patients, which could result in improved outcomes.

My research team was the first to demonstrate hyperpolarized 129Xe gas as a safe, inhaled contrast agent for lung MRI and show that 129Xe MRI was sensitive to early cystic-fibrosis lung disease. We also found that 129Xe MRI is feasible for use in children unable to perform spirometry, the clinical gold-standard test for lung disease.

I am a member of the American Thoracic Society, Alpha Chi Sigma, a co-ed professional chemistry fraterny and on the planning committee of the Assembly on Respiratory Structure and Function of the American Thoracic Society. I received the Scientific Abstract Award from the American Thoracic Society Assembly on Pediatrics in 2015 and the Rising Star Award from the American Thoracic Society Assembly on Respiratory Structure and Function in 2020.

Research Interests

Pulmonary MRI; hyperpolarized gas; translational studies; rare-lung diseases

Academic Affiliation

Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

Research Divisions

Pulmonary Medicine, Imaging, Fibrosis


PhD: Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL.

Postdoctoral Fellowship: Center for Pulmonary Imaging Research, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH.


Selected Publication

Cyst Ventilation Heterogeneity and Alveolar Airspace Dilation as Early Disease Markers in Lymphangioleiomyomatosis. Walkup, LL; Roach, DJ; Hall, CS; Gupta, N; Thomen, RP; Cleveland, ZI; McCormack, FX; Woods, JC. Annals of the American Thoracic Society. 2019; 16:1008-1016.

Xenon-129 MRI detects ventilation deficits in paediatric stem cell transplant patients unable to perform spirometry. Walkup, LL; Myers, K; El-Bietar, J; Nelson, A; Willmering, MM; Grimley, M; Davies, SM; Towe, C; Woods, JC. The European respiratory journal : official journal of the European Society for Clinical Respiratory Physiology. 2019; 53:1801779-1801779.

Feasibility, tolerability and safety of pediatric hyperpolarized Xe-129 magnetic resonance imaging in healthy volunteers and children with cystic fibrosis. Walkup, LL; Thomen, RP; Akinyi, TG; Watters, E; Ruppert, K; Clancy, JP; Woods, JC; Cleveland, ZI. Pediatric Radiology: roentgenology, nuclear medicine, ultrasonics, CT, MRI. 2016; 46:1651-1662.

A semi-empirical model to optimize continuous-flow hyperpolarized 129Xe production under practical cryogenic-accumulation conditions. Plummer, JW; Emami, K; Dummer, A; Woods, JC; Walkup, LL; Cleveland, ZI. Journal of Magnetic Resonance. 2020; 320:106845-106845.

Lung microstructure in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis before and after posterior spinal fusion. Thomen, RP; Woods, JC; Sturm, PF; Jain, V; Walkup, LL; Higano, NS; Quirk, JD; Varisco, BM. PLoS ONE. 2020; 15:e0240265-e0240265.

Characterization of R2∗ and tissue density in the human lung: Application to neonatal imaging in the intensive care unit. Hahn, AD; Malkus, A; Kammerman, J; Higano, N; Walkup, L; Woods, J; Fain, SB. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. 2020; 84:920-927.

Regional structure-function in cystic fibrosis lung disease using hyperpolarized 129xe and ultrashort echo magnetic resonance imaging. Thomen, RP; Walkup, LL; Roach, DJ; Higano, N; Schapiro, A; Brody, A; Clancy, JP; Cleveland, ZI; Woods, JC. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 2020; 202:290-292.

Improved pulmonary 129Xe ventilation imaging via 3D-spiral UTE MRI. Willmering, MM; Niedbalski, PJ; Wang, H; Walkup, LL; Robison, RK; Pipe, JG; Cleveland, ZI; Woods, JC. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. 2020; 84:312-320.

Structural and Functional Pulmonary Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Pediatrics - From the Neonate to the Young Adult. Walkup, LL; Higano, NS; Woods, JC. Academic Radiology. 2019; 26:424-430.

Evidence of Normal Alveolar Size in Pediatric Generalized Lymphatic Anomaly. Walkup, LL; Towe, CT; Bdaiwi, A; Merrow, AC; Hammill, AM; Cleveland, ZI; Woods, JC. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 2018; 198:1573-1574.