Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Human Brain: Technical Innovation and Application to Neurological Disorders

Funding Details
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Grant type: Foundation Grant
  • Years: 2016/17 to 2020/21
  • Total Funding: $944,422
Keywords
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Project Summary

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides unparalleled insight into human disease. Through continued technical innovation, we will further its utility by advancing image acquisition, quantitative analysis, and physics knowledge. Our novel brain MRI methods will be applied to stroke patients, where current MRI protocols are insufficient for accurate diagnosis in some patient subgroups (e.g. transient ischemic attack, wake up strokes). These MRI methods will also provide insight into typical brain development with age, a process important for 'normal' cognitive and behavioural maturation that may also provide clues about vulnerability to neurological or psychiatric disorders. In addition, advanced MRI will capture the lifelong impact that prenatal exposure to neurotoxins (e.g. alcohol) can have on the brain and its development. The outcomes of this research are: (i) Technical Innovation of Brain MRI - advanced quantitative MRI methods with higher spatial resolution and greater specificity to metabolic and microstructural changes in brain. (ii) Better MRI Diagnosis of Stroke - improved lesion detection in cases where clinical symptoms suggest stroke but conventional MRI lacks sufficient image resolution to confirm diagnosis, stroke onset time estimation to allow treatment for patients who wake with symptoms, and the discovery of the mechanisms behind the sensitivity of MRI for stroke. (iii) MRI Insights into Brain Development - identification of new aspects of typical brain development in healthy individuals over the lifespan, and detection of otherwise "invisible" brain injury underlying cognitive deficits in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Brain imaging innovations have the potential to detect disease processes earlier, guide individualized treatment strategies, track rehabilitation, achieve better patient outcomes, enhance quality of life, yield insight into disease mechanisms, and provide evidence to support key public health policies.

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