Karl Helmer, PhD

Professional Information


Assistant Professor in Radiology, Harvard Medical School
Assistant in Research, Massachusetts General Hospital


PhD Physics, University of Rochester, 1992

Martinos Faculty


Mailing Address

Building 149, Room 2301
13th Street
Charlestown,, MA 02129 USA

General Contact Information



My current position is that of Steering Committee Member and Researcher for the Biomedical Informatics Research Network (BIRN). The goal of the BIRN is to provide biomedical researchers with the infrastructure, tools, and knowledge base to share and query large data sets. Previous to this position, I was Project manager and researcher for the Morphometry BIRN (MBIRN) testbed, the goal of which was to provide an integrated acquisition, processing, and analysis environment for researchers performing multisite neuroimaging trials. This environment developed by MBIRN includes standardized acquisition protocols, an integrated processing, analysis, and visualization toolkit, and data archiving and querying tools. This work has been integrated into the main BIRN effort. The charge of the BIRN Steering Committee is to survey new and existing technology within each user domain and make recommendations on adoption, the allocation of resources among user groups, preparation and delivery of community outreach materials, and planning for future needs. In addition, I act as a consultant for groups wishing to establish multisite imaging trials, with a focus on the use of different types of diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) such as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). My work on diffusion methods also involves studies of new methods to track brain fibers using DTI and in human ex-vivo DTI and high angular resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI) studies. I am also involved in a collaboration that looks at the effects of music on the brain.