NEWS | July 3, 2014

Dr. Michael Buonocore, professor of radiology, dies at 59


Michael H. Buonocore, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Radiology for 27 years, died of cancer on June 21. He was 59.

Michael Buonocore
Michael Buonocore

“Dr. Buonocore was a brilliant scientist who preferred to stay out of the limelight, often performing his clinical physics evaluation of the MR scanners late in the evening,” said Raymond Dougherty, professor and chair of the Department of Radiology. “He dedicated himself to team science and collaborated with many faculty at UC Davis, nationally and internationally. His loss to our department as a scientist and esteemed colleague is enormous.”

Dr. Buonocore was born on Oct. 24, 1954, in Rochester, N.Y. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics from Syracuse University in 1977. He then enrolled at Stanford University, where he received his master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1979, his Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1982, and his medical degree in 1983.

From 1983-86, Dr. Buonocore served as chief scientist of Resonex, a magnetic resonance company, where one of his chief contributions was the invention of a widely used technique in modern magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems. He left Resonex in 1986 to work as a research scientist at the UC Berkeley Pure and Applied Mathematics Department.

In July 1987, Dr. Buonocore joined the UC Davis Department of Radiology and quickly developed clinical and research MRI opportunities for the UC Davis School of Medicine and UC Davis Medical Center. He developed many courses in advanced MRI for the biomedical engineering program at UC Davis, and was an advisor and mentor for many students.

Dr. Buonocore specialized in functional MRI and was a brain mapping expert. He implemented many novel and advanced MRI programs for the non-invasive measurement of physiological processes, working in consultation with fellow faculty members in the radiology department, as well as faculty in other departments, including psychiatry, neurology, cognitive neuroscience and anesthesiology.

His most successful projects included measurement and visualization of blood flow in the heart and major vessels; measurement of neural activation in the cerebral cortex during cognitive and sensorimotor tasks; measurement of kidney filtration parameters; and measurement of tissue perfusion in breast tumors.

Dr. Buonocore served as MRI technical director for the radiology department, and as technical director of the UC Davis Imaging Research center.

Dr. Buonocore is survived by his wife, Kim, and his son, Christopher.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Dr. Michael Buonocore Memorial Fund by contacting Jennifer Marsteen of UC Davis Health System Health Sciences Development at 916-734-9448. The fund will be used to advance research and teaching in magnetic resonance imaging in medicine at UC Davis, a cause to which Dr. Buonocore devoted much of his professional career.

Planning for a memorial service is underway.