Manbir Singh, a biomedical professor, dies at 67

[Correction: A previous version of this article indicated that Manbir Singh was 63. He was 67. The Daily Trojan regrets the error.]


Manbir Singh, a professor of radiology and biomedical engineering and pioneer in biomedical imaging technology, died of unknown causes while visiting family in India during winter break. He was 67.

In memoriam · Manbir Singh will be remembered as an understanding, easygoing, and compassionate person. He was a pioneer in biomedical imaging. - Courtesy of the Viterbi School of Engineering

Singh, who received his Ph.D in physics from UCLA in 1971, joined the Trojan Family in 1977 as a professor in the Department of Radiology. In 1988, he received a double appointment in USC’s Biomedical Engineering Department.

“I see him as the professor,” said Dr. Patrick Colletti, a professor of radiology and Singh’s former student. “He had this way of presenting materials in an organized manner so you could remember them — even complicated things could be broken down.”

Sinchai Tsao, a graduate student studying biomedical engineering who worked with Singh, said Singh was easygoing and understanding.

“One of the cooler things about him is he just let us express what we thought, and he would never judge us on what our ideas were,” Tsao said. “He was always open to chatting about what we thought.”

Biomedical Engineering Department Chair Norberto Grzywacz said he quickly learned of Singh’s good heart when he came to USC in 2001.

“First thing I had to do was write a grant proposal, and I didn’t even have an office yet, and [Singh] gave me his,” Grzywacz said. “He was really friendly, really nice.”

At home, Heidi Singh, Singh’s wife of 41 years, said he was a wonderful, great soul.

“He was a very open person,” said Heidi Singh, who said she is a Buddhist and her husband was a Sikh. “He was really open of all religions and supportive of everyone.”

Singh pioneered biomedical imaging with the use of single photon emission computed tomography, which produces 3-D imagery of internal organs.

“He was an experimentalist,” said Richard Leahy, a professor of signal and image processing theory. “He worked hard and was dedicated to what he did, and I think his work was characterized by a kind of independence of thought.”

Singh founded and served as director of the Neuroimaging core and of the Department of Biomedical Engineering’s graduate program in Biomedical Imaging.

“He just did what he did because he loved it,” Heidi Singh said. “He loved making a difference.”

He is survived by Heidi and their son, Kabir Singh, 24.

A memorial service for Singh will tentatively be held on Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. in the Davidson Conference Center.