Radiology Personnel

Stephen Dager, M.D.

Associate Director, Center on Human Development and Disability


Stephen R. Dager, M.D. is a Professor of Radiology and Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Utah.  He is a Research Affiliate and Associate Director of the University of Washington Center on Human Development and Disability.  He previously served as Interim Director of the University of Washington Autism Center.

At the national level, Dr. Dager chairs the Department of Defense Congressional-Mandated Medical Research Program’s Vision and Integration panels for autism research (Combating Autism Act), and is on the Scientific Advisory Board of Autism Speaks.  He is on the Editorial Boards of JAMA-Psychiatry and  Autism Research.

Dr. Dager obtained his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Nebraska and completed his residency training in Psychiatry at the University of Washington. He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and a member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. His primary research focus has been the development and application of novel imaging techniques to study brain mechanisms underlying neuropsychiatric disorders.

Dr. Dager directs NIH-funded research studying brain structural, metabolic and chemical abnormalities in neuropsychiatric disorders affecting both adults and young children.  As principal investigator of an ongoing “Neuroimaging of Autism” study funded by the NIH during the past 15 years, he is using structural MRI, DTI and a chemical imaging technique, proton echo-planar spectroscopic imaging (PEPSI), that was developed at the University of Washington Diagnostic Imaging Science Center (DISC), to longitudinally investigate brain development in children with autism or developmental delays in comparison to typically developing children between 3 and 15 years of age.  Dr. Dager additionally directs NIH ARRA-R01 research applying 3-D chemical imaging to study brain and white matter development in infants. Dr. Dager is UW PI of a collaborative longitudinal imaging study of infants at high-risk for autism that is being conducted between UNC Chapel Hill, Washington University, UPenn and the UW. He has directed NIH-funded imaging research investigating brain metabolic mechanisms underlying Panic Disorder and Bipolar Disorder, and the effects of treatment.  Dr. Dager and colleagues have developed techniques to non-invasively characterize brain pharmacokinetics of medications commonly used to treat depression and anxiety in children and adults. As a passionate consumer of caffeine in all forms, Dr. Dager also conducts research studying brain mechanisms involved in caffeine addiction.