Dr. Moss Zhao is a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Functional Neuroimaging led by Drs. Greg Zaharchuk and Michael Moseley. He develops cutting-edge and clinically viable imaging technologies to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cerebrovascular diseases across the lifespan. His specific areas of expertise include physiological modeling, arterial spin labeling, Bayesian inference, PET/MRI, and artificial intelligence. His scientific contributions could significantly improve the early detection of strokes and dementia as well as enrich the knowledge of brain development in the first two decades of life.

Dr. Zhao received his DPhil at St Cross College of University of Oxford under the supervision of Prof. Michael Chappell. As an alumni mentor, he supports the career development of students of his alma mater. Since 2016, he has presented his work to more than 3000 delegates at international conferences and held leadership positions in professional societies. His research and teaching are supported by the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health, and the European Cooperation in Science and Technology.

Honors & Awards

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, American Heart Association (2021)
  • Early Career Fellowship, The European Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology (ESMRMB) (2020)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • FIT & Early Career Blogging Program, American Heart Association (2021 - Present)
  • Member of The Membership, Marketing, and Media Committee, The European Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology (ESMRMB) (2020 - Present)
  • Member of The Early Career Investigators Committee, The European Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology (ESMRMB) (2019 - Present)
  • Member of EU COST Action Glioma MR Imaging 2.0, European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) (2019 - Present)

Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Oxford, Engineering Science (Biomedical Engineering) (2019)
  • Master of Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Biomedical Engineering (2013)
  • Bachelor of Science, Hong Kong Baptist University, Computer Science (2012)

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • Revascularization improves vascular hemodynamics - a study assessing cerebrovascular reserve and transit time in Moyamoya patients using MRI. Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism : official journal of the International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism Zhao, M. Y., Armindo, R. D., Gauden, A. J., Yim, B., Tong, E., Moseley, M., Steinberg, G. K., Zaharchuk, G. 2022: 271678X221140343


    Cerebrovascular reserve (CVR) reflects the capacity of cerebral blood flow (CBF) to change. Decreased CVR implies poor hemodynamics and is linked to a higher risk for stroke. Revascularization has been shown to improve CBF in patients with vasculopathy such as Moyamoya disease. Dynamic susceptibility contrast (DSC) can measure transit time to evaluate patients suspected of stroke. Arterial spin labeling (ASL) is a non-invasive technique for CBF, CVR, and arterial transit time (ATT) measurements. Here, we investigate the change in hemodynamics 4-12 months after extracranial-to-intracranial direct bypass in 52 Moyamoya patients using ASL with single and multiple post-labeling delays (PLD). Images were collected using ASL and DSC with acetazolamide. CVR, CBF, ATT, and time-to-maximum (Tmax) were measured in different flow territories. Results showed that hemodynamics improved significantly in regions affected by arterial occlusions after revascularization. CVR increased by 16 ± 11% (p < 0.01) and 25 ± 13% (p < 0.01) for single- and multi-PLD ASL, respectively. Transit time measured by multi-PLD ASL and post-vasodilation DSC reduced by 13 ± 7% (p < 0.01) and 9 ± 5% (p < 0.01), respectively. For all regions, ATT correlated significantly with Tmax (R2  =  0.59, p < 0.01). Thus, revascularization improved CVR and decreased transit times. Multi-PLD ASL can serve as an effective and non-invasive modality to examine vascular hemodynamics in Moyamoya patients.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0271678X221140343

    View details for PubMedID 36408536

  • Recent Technical Developments in ASL: A Review of the State of the Art. Magnetic resonance in medicine Hernandez-Garcia, L., Aramendia-Vidaurreta, V., Bolar, D. S., Dai, W., Fernandez-Seara, M. A., Guo, J., Madhuranthakam, A. J., Mutsaerts, H., Petr, J., Qin, Q., Schollenberger, J., Suzuki, Y., Taso, M., Thomas, D. L., van Osch, M. J., Woods, J., Yan, L., Wang, Z., Zhao, L., Zhao, M. Y., Okell, T. W. 2022


    This review article provides an overview of a range of recent technical developments in advanced arterial spin labeling (ASL) methods that have been developed or adopted by the community since the publication of a previous ASL consensus paper by Alsop et al. It is part of a series of review/recommendation papers from the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine Perfusion Study Group. Here, we focus on advancements in readouts and trajectories, image reconstruction, noise reduction, partial volume correction, quantification of nonperfusion parameters, fMRI, fingerprinting, vessel selective ASL, angiography, deep learning, and ultrahigh field ASL. We aim to provide a high level of understanding of these new approaches and some guidance for their implementation, with the goal of facilitating the adoption of such advances by research groups and by MRI vendors. Topics outside the scope of this article that are reviewed at length in separate articles include velocity selective ASL, multiple-timepoint ASL, body ASL, and clinical ASL recommendations.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/mrm.29381

    View details for PubMedID 35983963

  • Velocity-selective arterial spin labeling perfusion MRI: A review of the state of the art and recommendations for clinical implementation. Magnetic resonance in medicine Qin, Q., Alsop, D. C., Bolar, D. S., Hernandez-Garcia, L., Meakin, J., Liu, D., Nayak, K. S., Schmid, S., van Osch, M. J., Wong, E. C., Woods, J. G., Zaharchuk, G., Zhao, M. Y., Zun, Z., Guo, J. 2022


    This review article provides an overview of the current status of velocity-selective arterial spin labeling (VSASL) perfusion MRI and is part of a wider effort arising from the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) Perfusion Study Group. Since publication of the 2015 consensus paper on arterial spin labeling (ASL) for cerebral perfusion imaging, important advancements have been made in the field. The ASL community has, therefore, decided to provide an extended perspective on various aspects of technical development and application. Because VSASL has the potential to become a principal ASL method because of its unique advantages over traditional approaches, an in-depth discussion was warranted. VSASL labels blood based on its velocity and creates a magnetic bolus immediately proximal to the microvasculature within the imaging volume. VSASL is, therefore, insensitive to transit delay effects, in contrast to spatially selective pulsed and (pseudo-) continuous ASL approaches. Recent technical developments have improved the robustness and the labeling efficiency of VSASL, making it a potentially more favorable ASL approach in a wide range of applications where transit delay effects are of concern. In this review article, we (1) describe the concepts and theoretical basis of VSASL; (2) describe different variants of VSASL and their implementation; (3) provide recommended parameters and practices for clinical adoption; (4) describe challenges in developing and implementing VSASL; and (5) describe its current applications. As VSASL continues to undergo rapid development, the focus of this review is to summarize the fundamental concepts of VSASL, describe existing VSASL techniques and applications, and provide recommendations to help the clinical community adopt VSASL.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/mrm.29371

    View details for PubMedID 35819184

  • Using arterial spin labeling to measure cerebrovascular reactivity in Moyamoya disease: Insights from simultaneous PET/MRI. Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism : official journal of the International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism Zhao, M. Y., Fan, A. P., Chen, D. Y., Ishii, Y., Khalighi, M. M., Moseley, M., Steinberg, G. K., Zaharchuk, G. 2022: 271678X221083471


    Cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR) reflects the CBF change to meet different physiological demands. The reference CVR technique is PET imaging with vasodilators but is inaccessible to most patients. DSC can measure transit time to evaluate patients suspected of stroke, but the use of gadolinium may cause side-effects. Arterial spin labeling (ASL) is a non-invasive MRI technique for CBF measurements. Here, we investigate the effectiveness of ASL with single and multiple post labeling delays (PLD) to replace PET and DSC for CVR and transit time mapping in 26 Moyamoya patients. Images were collected using simultaneous PET/MRI with acetazolamide. CVR, CBF, arterial transit time (ATT), and time-to-maximum (Tmax) were measured in different flow territories. Results showed that CVR was lower in occluded regions than normal regions (by 68±12%, 52±5%, and 56±9%, for PET, single- and multi-PLD PCASL, respectively, all p<0.05). Multi-PLD PCASL correlated slightly higher with PET (CCC=0.36 and 0.32 in affected and unaffected territories respectively). Vasodilation caused ATT to reduce by 4.5±3.1% (p<0.01) in occluded regions. ATT correlated significantly with Tmax (R2>0.35, p<0.01). Therefore, multi-PLD ASL is recommended for CVR studies due to its high agreement with the reference PET technique and the capability of measuring transit time.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0271678X221083471

    View details for PubMedID 35236136

  • Reliability of arterial spin labeling derived cerebral blood flow in periventricular white matter. Neuroimage. Reports Dolui, S., Fan, A. P., Zhao, M. Y., Nasrallah, I. M., Zaharchuk, G., Detre, J. A. 2021; 1 (4)


    We aimed to assess the reliability of cerebral blood flow (CBF) measured using arterial spin labeled (ASL) perfusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) from the periventricular white matter (PVWM) by computing its repeatability and comparing to [15O]-water Positron Emission Tomography (PET) as a reference. Simultaneous PET/MRI perfusion data were acquired twice in the same session, about 15 min apart, from 16 subjects (age: 41.4 ± 12.0 years, 9 female). ASL protocols used pseudocontinuous labeling (pCASL) with background-suppressed 3-dimensional readouts, and included both single and multiple post labeling delay (PLD) acquisitions, each acquired twice, with the latter providing both CBF and arterial transit time (ATT) maps. The reliability of ASL derived PVWM CBF was evaluated using intra-session repeatability assessed by the within-subject coefficient of variation (wsCV) of the PVWM CBF values obtained from the two scans, correlation with concurrently-acquired PET CBF values, and by comparing them with that measured in other commonly used regions of interest (ROIs) such as whole brain (WB), gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM). The wsCVs for PVWM CBF with single and multi-PLD acquisitions were 5.7 (95% CI: (3.4,7.7)) % and 6.1 (95% CI: (3.8,8.3))%, which were similar to those obtained from WB, GM and WM CBF even though the PVWM region is the most weakly perfused region of brain parenchyma. Correlations between relative PVWM CBF derived from ASL and from [15O]-water PET were also comparable to the other ROIs. Finally, the ATT of the PVWM region was found to be 1.27 ± 0.27s, which was not an outlier for the arterial circulation of the brain. These findings suggest that PVWM CBF can be reliably measured with the current state-of-the-art ASL methods.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ynirp.2021.100063

    View details for PubMedID 35419550

  • Cerebrovascular Reactivity Measurements Using Simultaneous 15O-Water PET and ASL MRI: Impacts of Arterial Transit Time, Labeling Efficiency, and Hematocrit. NeuroImage Zhao, M. Y., Fan, A. P., Chen, D. Y., Sokolska, M. J., Guo, J. n., Ishii, Y. n., Shin, D. D., Khalighi, M. M., Holley, D. n., Halbert, K. n., Otte, A. n., Williams, B. n., Rostami, T. n., Park, J. H., Shen, B. n., Zaharchuk, G. n. 2021: 117955


    Cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR) reflects the capacity of the brain to meet changing physiological demands and can predict the risk of cerebrovascular diseases. CVR can be obtained by measuring the change in cerebral blood flow (CBF) during a brain stress test where CBF is altered by a vasodilator such as acetazolamide. Although the gold standard to quantify CBF is PET imaging, the procedure is invasive and inaccessible to most patients. Arterial spin labeling (ASL) is a non-invasive and quantitative MRI method to measure CBF, and a consensus guideline has been published for the clinical application of ASL. Despite single post labeling delay (PLD) pseudo-continuous ASL (PCASL) being the recommended ASL technique for CBF quantification, it is sensitive to variations to the arterial transit time (ATT) and labeling efficiency induced by the vasodilator in CVR studies. Multi-PLD ASL controls for the changes in ATT, and velocity selective ASL is in theory insensitive to both ATT and labeling efficiency. Here we investigate CVR using simultaneous 15O-water PET and ASL MRI data from 19 healthy subjects. CVR and CBF measured by the ASL techniques were compared using PET as the reference technique. The impacts of blood T1 and labeling efficiency on ASL were assessed using individual measurements of hematocrit and flow velocity data of the carotid and vertebral arteries measured using phase-contrast MRI. We found that multi-PLD PCASL is the ASL technique most consistent with PET for CVR quantification (group mean CVR of the whole brain = 42±19% and 40±18% respectively). Single-PLD ASL underestimated the CVR of the whole brain significantly by 15±10% compared with PET (p<0.01, paired t test). Changes in ATT pre- and post-acetazolamide was the principal factor affecting ASL-based CVR quantification. Variations in labeling efficiency and blood T1 had negligible effects.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.117955

    View details for PubMedID 33716155

  • Reproducibility of cerebrovascular reactivity measurements: A systematic review of neuroimaging techniques. Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism : official journal of the International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism Zhao, M. Y., Woodward, A., Fan, A. P., Chen, K. T., Yu, Y., Chen, D. Y., Moseley, M. E., Zaharchuk, G. 2021: 271678X211056702


    Cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR), the capacity of the brain to increase cerebral blood flow (CBF) to meet changes in physiological demand, is an important biomarker to evaluate brain health. Typically, this brain "stress test" is performed by using a medical imaging modality to measure the CBF change between two states: at baseline and after vasodilation. However, since there are many imaging modalities and many ways to augment CBF, a wide range of CVR values have been reported. An understanding of CVR reproducibility is critical to determine the most reliable methods to measure CVR as a clinical biomarker. This review focuses on CVR reproducibility studies using neuroimaging techniques in 32 articles comprising 427 total subjects. The literature search was performed in PubMed, Embase, and Scopus. The review was conducted using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). We identified 5 factors of the experimental subjects (such as sex, blood characteristics, and smoking) and 9 factors of the measuring technique (such as the imaging modality, the type of the vasodilator, and the quantification method) that have strong effects on CVR reproducibility. Based on this review, we recommend several best practices to improve the reproducibility of CVR quantification in neuroimaging studies.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0271678X211056702

    View details for PubMedID 34806918

  • Predicting PET Cerebrovascular Reserve with Deep Learning by Using Baseline MRI: A Pilot Investigation of a Drug-Free Brain Stress Test. Radiology Chen, D. Y., Ishii, Y., Fan, A. P., Guo, J., Zhao, M. Y., Steinberg, G. K., Zaharchuk, G. 2020: 192793


    Background Cerebrovascular reserve (CVR) may be measured by using an acetazolamide test to clinically evaluate patients with cerebrovascular disease. However, acetazolamide use may be contraindicated and/or undesirable in certain clinical settings. Purpose To predict CVR images generated from acetazolamide vasodilation with a deep learning network by using only images before acetazolamide administration. Materials and Methods Simultaneous oxygen 15 (15O)-labeled water PET/MRI before and after acetazolamide injection were retrospectively analyzed for patients with Moyamoya disease and healthy control participants from April 2017 to May 2019. Inputs to deep learning models were perfusion-based images (arterial spin labeling [ASL]), structural scans (T2 fluid-attenuated inversion-recovery, T1), and brain location. Two models, that is, 15O-labeled water PET cerebral blood flow (CBF) and MRI (PET-plus-MRI model) before acetazolamide administration and only MRI (MRI-only model) before acetazolamide administration, were trained and tested with sixfold cross-validation. The models learned to predict a voxelwise relative CBF change (rDeltaCBF) map by using rDeltaCBF measured with PET due to acetazolamide as ground truth. Quantitative analysis included image quality metrics (peak signal-to-noise ratio, root mean square error, and structural similarity index), as well as comparison between the various methods by using correlation and Bland-Altman analyses. Identification of vascular territories with impaired rDeltaCBF was evaluated by using receiver operating characteristic metrics. Results Thirty-six participants were included: 24 patients with Moyamoya disease (mean age ± standard deviation, 41 years ± 12; 17 women) and 12 age-matched healthy control participants (mean age, 39 years ± 16; nine women). The rDeltaCBF maps predicted by both deep learning models demonstrated better image quality metrics than did ASL (all P < .001 in patients) and higher correlation coefficient with PET than with ASL (PET-plus-MRI model, 0.704; MRI-only model, 0.690 vs ASL, 0.432; both P < .001 in patients). Both models also achieved high diagnostic performance in identifying territories with impaired rDeltaCBF (area under receiver operating characteristic curve, 0.95 for PET-plus-MRI model [95% confidence interval: 0.90, 0.99] and 0.95 for MRI-only model [95% confidence interval: 0.91, 0.98]). Conclusion By using only images before acetazolamide administration, PET-plus-MRI and MRI-only deep learning models predicted cerebrovascular reserve images without the need for vasodilator injection. © RSNA, 2020 Online supplemental material is available for this article.

    View details for DOI 10.1148/radiol.2020192793

    View details for PubMedID 32662761

  • Quantification of cerebral perfusion and cerebrovascular reserve using Turbo-QUASAR arterial spin labeling MRI. Magnetic resonance in medicine Zhao, M. Y., Václavů, L., Petersen, E. T., Biemond, B. J., Sokolska, M. J., Suzuki, Y., Thomas, D. L., Nederveen, A. J., Chappell, M. A. 2019


    To compare cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebrovascular reserve (CVR) quantification from Turbo-QUASAR (quantitative signal targeting with alternating radiofrequency labeling of arterial regions) arterial spin labeling (ASL) and single post-labeling delay pseudo-continuous ASL (PCASL).A model-based method was developed to quantify CBF and arterial transit time (ATT) from Turbo-QUASAR, including a correction for magnetization transfer effects caused by the repeated labeling pulses. Simulations were performed to assess the accuracy of the model-based method. Data from an in vivo experiment conducted on a healthy cohort were retrospectively analyzed to compare the CBF and CVR (induced by acetazolamide) measurement from Turbo-QUASAR and PCASL on the basis of global and regional differences. The quality of the two ASL data sets was examined using the coefficient of variation (CoV).The model-based method for Turbo-QUASAR was accurate for CBF estimation (relative error was 8% for signal-to-noise ratio = 5) in simulations if the bolus duration was known. In the in vivo experiment, the mean global CVR estimated by Turbo-QUASAR and PCASL was between 63% and 64% and not significantly different. Although global CBF values of the two ASL techniques were not significantly different, regional CBF differences were found in deep gray matter in both pre- and postacetazolamide conditions. The CoV of Turbo-QUASAR data was significantly higher than PCASL.Both ASL techniques were effective for quantifying CBF and CVR, despite the regional differences observed. Although CBF estimated from Turbo-QUASAR demonstrated a higher variability than PCASL, Turbo-QUASAR offers the advantage of being able to measure and control for variation in ATT.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/mrm.27956

    View details for PubMedID 31513311

  • A systematic study of the sensitivity of partial volume correction methods for the quantification of perfusion from pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling MRI NEUROIMAGE Zhao, M. Y., Mezue, M., Segerdahl, A. R., Okell, T. W., Tracey, I., Xiao, Y., Chappell, M. A. 2017; 162: 384–97


    Arterial spin labeling (ASL) MRI is a non-invasive technique for the quantification of cerebral perfusion, and pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling (PCASL) has been recommended as the standard implementation by a recent consensus of the community. Due to the low spatial resolution of ASL images, perfusion quantification is biased by partial volume effects. Consequently, several partial volume correction (PVEc) methods have been developed to reduce the bias in gray matter (GM) perfusion quantification. The efficacy of these methods relies on both the quality of the ASL data and the accuracy of partial volume estimates. Here we systematically investigate the sensitivity of different PVEc methods to variability in both the ASL data and partial volume estimates using simulated PCASL data and in vivo PCASL data from a reproducibility study. We examined the PVEc methods in two ways: the ability to preserve spatial details and the accuracy of GM perfusion estimation. Judging by the root-mean-square error (RMSE) between simulated and estimated GM CBF, the spatially regularized method was superior in preserving spatial details compared to the linear regression method (RMSE of 1.2 vs 5.1 in simulation of GM CBF with short scale spatial variations). The linear regression method was generally less sensitive than the spatially regularized method to noise in data and errors in the partial volume estimates (RMSE 6.3 vs 23.4 for SNR = 5 simulated data), but this could be attributed to the greater smoothing introduced by the method. Analysis of a healthy cohort dataset indicates that PVEc, using either method, improves the repeatability of perfusion quantification (within-subject coefficient of variation reduced by 5% after PVEc).

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.08.072

    View details for Web of Science ID 000416502800034

    View details for PubMedID 28887087

  • Disease-Specific Target Gene Expression Profiling of Molecular Imaging Probes: Database Development and Clinical Validation MOLECULAR IMAGING Chan, L., Ngo, C., Wang, F., Zhao, M. Y., Zhao, M., Law, H., Wong, S., Yung, B. 2014; 13


    Molecular imaging probes can target abnormal gene expression patterns in patients and allow early diagnosis of disease. For selecting a suitable imaging probe, the current Molecular Imaging and Contrast Agent Database (MICAD) provides descriptive and qualitative information on imaging probe characteristics and properties. However, MICAD does not support linkage with the expression profiles of target genes. The proposed Disease-specific Imaging Probe Profiling (DIPP) database quantitatively archives and presents the gene expression profiles of targets across different diseases, anatomic regions, and subcellular locations, providing an objective reference for selecting imaging probes. The DIPP database was validated with a clinical positron emission tomography (PET) study on lung cancer and an in vitro study on neuroendocrine cancer. The retrieved records show that choline kinase beta and glucose transporters were positively and significantly associated with lung cancer among the targets of 11C-choline and [18F]fluoro-2-deoxy-2-d-glucose (FDG), respectively. Their significant overexpressions corresponded to the findings that the uptake rate of FDG increased with tumor size but that of 11C-choline remained constant. Validated with the in vitro study, the expression profiles of disease-associated targets can indicate the eligibility of patients for clinical trials of the treatment probe. A Web search tool of the DIPP database is available at

    View details for DOI 10.2310/7290.2014.00017

    View details for Web of Science ID 000344215700002

    View details for PubMedID 25022454