Despina Kontos PhD

Professor of Radiology
Despina Kontos, PhD, is a computer scientist with expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics for multi-modality imaging data. She is a professor of radiology and vice chair of artificial intelligence and data science research in the Department of Radiology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and director of biomarker imaging at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital—with additional appointments in the Departments of Biomedical Informatics and Biomedical Engineering. She is also the founding director of Columbia University's Center for Innovation in Imaging Biomarkers and Integrated Diagnostics (CIMBID), a multidisciplinary center dedicated to developing and integrating quantitative imaging and non-imaging biomarkers for personalized disease prediction, particularly in cancer.

Dr. Kontos has made seminal contributions to the leveraging of artificial intelligence tools for risk prediction in breast and lung cancer. Her research program focuses on investigating the role of imaging as a quantitative biomarker for improving cancer screening, prognostication, and treatment. She has developed innovative computational methodologies that have enabled the investigation of novel cancer phenotypic biomarkers via imaging, and has translated these biomarkers through extensive clinical and epidemiologic studies to answer important research questions for personalizing cancer care.

With a primary focus on breast cancer, her work has contributed to a fundamental transition in the interpretation of breast cancer images, by showing that imaging data can be mined to extract sophisticated phenotypic signatures with independent diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive value. Her lab is also pursuing related research in lung cancers, specifically on evaluating the integration of CT radiomic features with liquid biopsy data to characterize lung tumor heterogeneity for predicting response to targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

Dr. Kontos is the recipient of numerous grants from both federal agencies and private foundations, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Defense (DOD), the American Cancer Society (ACS), and the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). She is the author of more than 100 publications in high-impact journals, and her lectures have gained national recognition.

Dr. Kontos studied engineering as an undergraduate at the University of Patras in Greece. She received her PhD in computer and information sciences from Temple University in Philadelphia, followed by postdoc training in radiology at the University of Pennsylvania. She has certificates in Biostatistics and Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania; Cancer Biology and Targeted Therapeutics from Harvard University; and AI for Decision Making: Business Strategies and Applications from the Wharton School of Business. Dr. Kontos is a member of the RSNA Research & Education Foundation Fund Development Committee.