Kevin S. King MD

Kevin S. King MD

Clinical and Scientific Director of Imaging Research

Research Focus

Dr. Kevin King is a board-certified radiologist practicing and performing his research as Imaging Director at Huntington Medical Research Institutes (HMRI) since 2016. Current projects use MRI to learn how diseases such as diabetes, liver cirrhosis, and chronic treated HIV impact brain health. He obtained his medical degree from the prestigious joint Health Sciences and Technology program between Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As an NIH Clinical Scholar and Assistant Professor of Radiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dr. King conducted research with the Dallas Heart Study using MRI to understand the role of vascular disease in brain health and served as co-director of the imaging core for their Alzheimer’s Disease Center and principal investigator of a trial to study how vascular risk factors damage the brain. As an Assistant Professor of Radiology at USC Keck School of Medicine, he received the prestigious research scholar award from the Radiological Society of North America to conduct research using novel MRI tools to study the contribution of vascular disease to dementia. He is the Neuroradiologist for the HABLE (Health & Aging Brain among Latino Elders) study, which has evaluated over 1000 individuals to date to determine the drivers of cognitive decline among Mexican Americans.

Currently, Dr. King is seeking to use non-invasive imaging methods to better understand changes in the brain’s vascular function due to aging and disease, continuing a long tradition of excellence and innovation in these areas of imaging research at HMRI. The long-term goal of this work is to enable early assessment of disease onset so that therapies can be initiated before the disease is too advanced. Clinical trials and medicine generally need objective non-invasive end-points to be able to follow response to therapies, and MRI end-points are critical for advancing therapies.

In 2018, HMRI installed a second MRI which will be dedicated to clinical research under Dr. King’s leadership. This state-of-the-art magnet allows HMRI investigators to probe the anatomic and chemical causes of disease. The machine is equipped with specialized coils to facilitate the investigation of chemical processes, such as those involved in core metabolism and energy. These chemical pathways change as we age and with the disease, and imaging these reactions represents the future in non-invasive diagnostics.  The imaging laboratory also functions as a physiology laboratory to expand our understanding of changes in brain blood vessels with aging and chronic disease.

In May 2019, Dr. King was invited by HMRI Trustee C. Joseph Chang to give a keynote speech for the fourth anniversary of The Mrs. Yun-Chung W. Chang, R.PH Memorial Scholarship Ceremony to honor Mr. Chang’s mother. The Chang Family launched the Mrs. Chang Memorial Scholarship in 2016. The mission of this memorial scholarship is to encourage the pursuit of medical science and to encourage the development of research and education in the health profession in students.

Dr. Kings contributions to science:

1.     MRI assessment of Cardiovascular Function:  Dr King has developed and validated MRI tools for assessing vascular function and its impact on health outcomes with a focus on brain health.  He identified a more accurate test for prediction of ischemic brain insults using MRI assessment of aortic arch stiffness. Aortic arch stiffness represents cumulative hypertensive insult across the life span but also has relevance for brain health and correlated better with brain outcomes than cardiac left ventricle mass.  He showed how different markers of stiffness have distinct associations with vascular outcomes, with global arterial stiffness having a stronger correlation with cardiac events but aortic arch stiffness being more predictive of neuronal and extra-cardiac events.  He has also shown ethnic disparities with a stiffer aortic arch in Hispanics and Blacks compared with Whites even early in life before development of hypertension, which may underlie ethnic differences in vascular outcomes.

a.     King KS, Chen KX, Hulsey KM, McColl RW, Weiner MF, Nakonezny PA, Peshock RM. White matter hyperintensities: use of aortic arch pulse wave velocity to predict volume independent of other cardiovascular risk factors. Radiology. 2013 Jun;267(3):709-17. PubMed PMID: 23392429; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3662900.

b.     Maroules CD, Khera A, Ayers C, Goel A, Peshock RM, Abbara S, King KS. Cardiovascular outcome associations among cardiovascular magnetic resonance measures of arterial stiffness: the Dallas heart study. J Cardiovasc Magn Reson. 2014 May 14;16:33. PubMed PMID: 24886531; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4031496.

c.      King KS. Arterial stiffness as a potential determinant of β-amyloid deposition. JAMA Neurol. 2014 May;71(5):541-2. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2014.187. PubMed PMID: 24687122.

d.     Goel A, Maroules CD, Mitchell GF, Peshock R, Ayers C, McColl R, Vongpatanasin W, King KS. Ethnic Difference in Proximal Aortic Stiffness: An Observation From the Dallas Heart Study. JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2017 Jan;10(1):54-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmg.2016.07.012. Epub 2016 Nov 9. PubMed PMID: 27838302.

2.     Epidemiological determinants of Brain Health:  As an NIH scholar, Dr. King worked as an investigator and primary Neuroradiologist for the Dallas Heart Study evaluating the population impact of vascular risk factors on brain health.  Working with experts on mechanisms of longevity, Dr. King published the first study showing a link between leukocyte telomere lengths and accelerated brain atrophy.  Other work established links between measures of health and development of damage to the brain with aging.  Dr. King began incorporate advanced measures of hemodynamic function through a collaboration with Hanzhang Lu, where we were able to show for the first time with MRI a link between dyslipidemia and subclinical vascular insufficiency.  Current work is aimed at using functional MRI for more specific assessment of brain health and to probe earlier insults to the brain at a time when interventions may be most effective.

  1. King KS, Sheng M, Liu P, Maroules CD, Rubin CD, Peshock RM, McColl RW, Lu H. Detrimental effect of systemic vascular risk factors on brain hemodynamic function assessed with MRI. Neuroradiol J. 2018 Jan 1:1971400917750375. PubMed PMID: 29319396.
  2. King KS, Kozlitina J, Rosenberg RN, Peshock RM, McColl RW, Garcia CK. Effect of leukocyte telomere length on total and regional brain volumes in a large population-based cohort. JAMA Neurol. 2014 Oct;71(10):1247-54. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2014.1926. Erratum in: JAMA Neurol. 2014 Dec;71(12):1580. PubMed PMID:25090243; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5479062.
  3. King KS, Peshock RM, Rossetti HC, McColl RW, Ayers CR, Hulsey KM, Das SR. Effect of normal aging versus hypertension, abnormal body mass index, and diabetes mellitus on white matter hyperintensity volume. Stroke. 2014 Jan;45(1):255-7. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.113.003602. Epub 2013 Nov 7. PubMed PMID: 24203844; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3928033.


Complete list of 24 published works: