In Memoriam: Rao Gullapalli, PhD, MBA


We are saddened to share that Rao Gullapalli, PhD, MBA, professor of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, passed away on April 18 after a brief and courageous battle with cancer.

According to his obituary, Dr. Gullapalli grew up in Hyderabad, India, and moved to the United States to pursue his higher education in 1982. He joined the team at the University of Maryland in 1996.

He directed the Core for Translational Research in Imaging at Maryland (C-TRIM), which facilitates both human and preclinical imaging research. C-TRIM also provides imaging research services to cancer center members within the University of Maryland network. Dr. Gullapalli also directed the Center for Integration of Metabolic Imaging and Therapeutics (CIMIT), which provides a multi-disciplinary environment for the development of advanced metabolic imaging and the development of innovative image-guided interventions, including focused ultrasound.

As a medical physicist, Dr. Gullapalli’s work involved developing novel magnetic resonance (MR) imaging techniques for clinical research. He studied longitudinal changes in structure and function following brain injury and developed image-guided interventional techniques. His lab has also been involved in optimizing techniques for MR-guided focused ultrasound for applications in neuromodulation and in treatment of chronic pain.

Last year, Dr. Gullapalli was one of eight professors recognized as the inaugural MPower Professors by the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State (MPower). The honor recognizes, incentivizes, and fosters faculty collaborations between the College Park and Baltimore campuses.

In the award announcement, Dr. Gullapalli shared the following about the focused ultrasound research at the University of Maryland, “There is no greater pleasure than watching patients who have essential tremors for decades and are medication refractory, obtaining the [MR-guided focused ultrasound] procedure and two hours later coming out of the MR free from tremors. And the brain surgery did not involve any scalpel or anesthesia, and the patient was awake throughout the procedure, providing feedback on his progress. When you are part of a team like this, it drives you to do even more, and even better.”

In September 2016, the University of Maryland was designated a Focused Ultrasound Center of Excellence.

“Dr. Gullapalli was a dedicated collaborator and friend,” said John Snell, PhD, the Foundation’s former brain technical director. “He led important technical research demonstrating the feasibility of focused ultrasound to reach and treat new areas of the brain, bringing this technology to bear on epilepsy and other challenging indications.”