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|Vitalii V. Itskovich|
Vitalii Itskovich died on January 14th 2006 at the age of 33. Vitalii was born in the former Soviet Union and grew up in the region that later became the independent state of Moldova. Despite his humble beginnings and significant challenges, including losing his father to cancer at a young age, Vitalii used his prodigious intellect and fierce determination to pursue a career in science and provide for a better life for himself and his mother. After completing his studies in Moldova, and being forced to move to the United States due to political upheaval in Moldova, he was accepted into the biomedical engineering PhD program at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Vitalii successfully completed his VCU coursework while simultaneously teaching himself English and working at night in the food service industry.
Vitalii's graduate work in the area of aortic wave velocity measurements provided the foundation for his noted accomplishments in the field of MR pulse sequence development. He was instrumental in the development and optimization of several MR sequences essential for atherosclerotic plaque imaging, including multi-slice dark blood fast imaging techniques, development of novel methods to suppress blood flow for better vessel wall delineation, and the imaging of iron oxide particles with positive contrast. His expertise in the field of MR image analysis led to the development of algorithms based on cluster analysis for automating plaque segmentation. His contributions extended to diverse areas of research such as the characterization of aortic root atherosclerosis, detection of lesion regression and in disease progression in Marfan's syndrome. His work in this field resulted in 3 US patents.
In September of 2003, Vitalii was diagnosed with a rare and particularly virulent form of gastric cancer. Vitalii vigorously researched his cancer and became very involved with his treatment plans, and outliving all expectations before succumbing at age 33 on a cold yet sunny New York City January day. He remains in our memories and we think fondly of him often.