Primary Appointment: Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Ultrasound imaging
- Photoacoustic imaging
- Image quality improvements
- Advanced beamforming methods
- Light delivery systems
- Medical robotics
- Image-guided surgery
- Technology development
- Medical device design
- Clinical translation
Muyinatu Bell is recognized internationally for her pioneering work in medical imaging technology, specifically ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging, photoacoustic-guided surgery, robot-assisted imaging, machine learning for image formation, and other cutting-edge techniques created to significantly advance healthcare interventions and diagnosis. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, with a joint appointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and a secondary appointment in the Department of Computer Science.
Bell, who founded and directs the Photoacoustic and Ultrasonic Systems Engineering (PULSE) Lab at Johns Hopkins University, developed and patented the world’s first short-lag spatial coherence (SLSC) beamformer for ultrasound data. She leads her team in creating several innovations, including the first software to train computers to remove “noisy” background information from ultrasounds to provide interventional radiologists with a new and clearer type of ultrasound image that only displays structures of interest, such as a needle tip or a tumor. She received the Trailblazer Award (2018) from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering for this high-risk, high-impact innovation.
Another groundbreaking project is the exploration of photoacoustic imaging systems for surgical guidance, work that led to Bell being named one of MIT Technology Review’s “35 Innovators Under 35” (2016), Maryland’s Outstanding Young Engineer (2019), and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow (2019). Bell’s PULSE Lab created novel uses of optical fibers for photoacoustic sensing of blood vessels, nerves, and other major structures otherwise hidden from a surgeon’s immediate view to eliminate surgical complications caused by accidental injury to these structures. Her lab also introduced the concept of teleoperative photacoustic-guided surgery using the da Vinci surgical system, the first study of its kind combining photoacoustic imaging and minimally invasive robotic surgeries to improve accuracy.
In addition to her three departmental appointments in the JHU Whiting School of Engineering, Bell is affiliated with Hopkins’ Carnegie Center for Surgical Innovation, Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics, and Malone Center for Engineering in Healthcare. She is a fellow with the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute, completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Hopkins Engineering Research Center for Computer-Integrated Surgical Systems and Technology (2016) and was a Whitaker International Fellow at the Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden Hospital in the U.K. (2009-2010).
Bell is the recipient of numerous awards, grants, and fellowships, among them the National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2018), the National Institutes of Health K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award (2015), and the Johns Hopkins Discovery Award (2018). In 2018, the National Academy of Engineering invited Bell to participate in the U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium. Bell has published more than 60 scientific journal articles and conference papers and holds a patent for the SLSC beamformer, with two pending patent applications.
She is a Lifetime Member of SPIE, the international society for optics and phototonics, an Early Career Member of the Optical Society of America (OSA), and a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Within IEEE, she holds various memberships in the Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control Society and the Robotics and Automation Society.
Her numerous conference presentations include the keynote address for the 2019 International Conference on Medical Imaging with Deep Learning and the 2018 keynote address for the OSA-sponsored Conference on Optics, Atoms and Laser Applications (KOALA), Listening to the Sound of Light to Guide Surgeries. Bell’s professional service is equally extensive, among them, organizing the 2019 Special Session on Advances in Ultrasound Imaging Technology for the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), chairing the Biomedical Imaging and Instrumentation track for the 2019 BMES conference, helping to organize several IEEE conferences, and championing Women in Engineering/Diversity for the IEEE Ultrasonics Standing Committee. In addition to reviewing articles for numerous journals, she is Associate Editor in Chief of IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control, Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging, and Associate Editor of two additional journals in her field: Photoacoustics and Ultrasonic Imaging. She is also guest editing Deep Learning in Medical Ultrasound – from image formation to image analysis, IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control.
Bell earned a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering with a Biomedical Engineering minor from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University, and completed postdoctoral research in computer science at Johns Hopkins University.
Affiliations: Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics (LCSR), Carnegie Center for Surgical Innovation, Malone Center for Engineering in Healthcare (MCEH), Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI)
Joint Appointment: Department of Biomedical Engineering
Secondary Appointment: Department of Computer Science
Selected Awards and Honors
2021, SPIE Early Career Achievement Award
2020, IEEE UFFC Star Ambassador Lectureship Award
2019, Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow
2019, Maryland’s Outstanding Young Engineer Award
2019, ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award
2018, NSF CAREER Award
2018, NIH Trailblazer Award
2018, Johns Hopkins Discovery Award
2016, MIT Technology Review, 35 Innovators Under 35
2015, Best Paper Award Honorable Mention, IEEE International Conference on Advanced Robotics
2015, NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award
2013, Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship
2012, UNCF-Merck Postdoctoral Research Fellowship
2011, UNCF-Merck Graduate Research Dissertation Fellowship
2009, Whitaker International Fellowship