Upcoming Events

SINAPSE Image Analysis meeting Sep 20, 2017 10:30 AM - 03:30 PM — Wolfson Theatre, Queen Mother Building, University of Dundee
ERASMUS Course on MRI: Basic MRI Physics Sep 25, 2017 - Sep 29, 2017 — Ninewells Hospital Medical School, Dundee
7th SINAPSE-SANON Meeting Sep 28, 2017 09:30 AM - 04:00 PM — Wellcome Rooms, Royal Society of Edinburgh, 22-26 George Street, Edinburgh
ECCOMAS VipIMAGE 2017 Oct 18, 2017 - Oct 20, 2017 — Porto, Portugal
ESMRMB 2017 Congress Oct 19, 2017 - Oct 21, 2017 — Fira de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

People


Your search for returned 32 Result(s)



Mrs Maryam Alsyedalhashem

Description of PhD:

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Physics, Brain imaging

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Adele Blair

Description of PhD:

 

The translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO, formerly known as the peripheral benzodiazepine receptor) is found at high levels in the kidney, lung, heart and at low concentration in the brain. TSPO is associated with initial inflammatory processes in the early stages of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases and after brain injury caused by stroke or head trauma. TSPO has therefore significant potential as a marker of regions affected by these conditions. While radioligands have been developed for TSPO these suffer from high nonspecific binding and relatively low brain uptake. The aim of this project is to develop a new generation of molecular tracers which can act as effective imaging agents for TSPO. A new synthetic approach for the preparation of a small library of compounds based on the phenoxyphenylacetamide core structure will be developed and tested for affinity with TSPO. This will allow the development of a structure activity relationship model ultimately generating a lead compound which can radiolabelled for in vivo imaging of TSPO. An additional feature of this research programme will be the design of target compounds with multi-labelling positions allowing these compounds to be used for either PET and SPECT imaging (In collaboration with Dr Sally Pimlott, University of Glasgow). The structures of these compounds also have the potential to fluoresce and thus may find application in optical imaging. A significant portion of this PhD studentship will be carried out in the department of chemistry (GU), thus further strengthening the collaboration between the ScotCHEM and SINAPSE pooling initiatives. The research will be carried out in collaboration with Molecular NeuroImaging, MNI, a company based in Connecticut who develop radioligands as tools for drug development for neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders (Dr Gilles Tamagnan). MNI will consult on the key objectives of the research programme as well as provide a placement for the PhD student to experience the use of clinical trials and PET/SPECT radiochemistry in an industrial setting.

 

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Ms Lieke Braadbaart

Description of PhD:

Autism is a disorder manifest in impairment of complex social behaviours, which are likely to stem from impairment of basic mechanisms of social learning such as imitation. We have recently developed a novel method for objective, quantifiable measurement of manual (Culmer, 2009) as well as facial (Williams, in press) imitation fidelity outside of the scanning environment.

The manual task requires the comparison of kinematic parameters of actions between model and observers recorded through the use of touchscreen technology. The high levels of accuracy and precision that are possible in these measures have enabled us to show that relatively small differences between typical individuals correlate with BOLD signal differences during simple imitation in brain regions serving social cognitive functions that include insula, ventromedial prefrontal cortex and frontal pole (Braadbaart, 2012). Our third piece of pilot work to prepare for this project has been the development of touchscreen technology adapted for the MRI scanning environment.

The facial imitation task is developed in collaboration with the Perception Lab at the University of St Andrews. It requires manipulated facial expressions as novel stimuli to imitate; participant's imitative attempts are quantified through blind rating. Another behavioural measure taken into account is empathy. These measures are then correlated to BOLD signal differences in response to the facial imitation stimuli viewed in the scanner, to determine which cognitive processes are involved in facial imitation ability and how it interacts with empathy.

This project’s goal is to incorporate our objective measures of imitation fidelity into an fMRI experiment to compare directly the neural correlates of social learning between a group of young people with autism and a group of control participants. The project offers a route to developing clinically applicable measures of neurodevelopmental impairment, validated using functional neuroimaging.

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Ms Elisa Calamai

Description of PhD:

 

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) accounts for 62% of all dementia and represents a major and increasing problem in many developed countries. It  is estimated that the cost of dementia care to the NHS is currently £17 billion per annum. Furthermore, as the average age of the population increases these costs are likely to rise significantly. There are currently around 700,000 people in the UK with dementia and this number is expected to rise to over a million by 2025 and over 1.7 million by 2051. Consequently there is significant effort being directed at developing effective treatments for AD. Imaging biomarkers have a significant role to play in this effort. Such treatments will undoubtedly be expensive and current clinical assessment for AD is inaccurate. There is a need for methods that allow specific diagnosis. Specific markers of AD may be used to diagnose patients, to help in drug development, to select patients who are most likely to benefit from a particular therapy or to monitor their response. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is the most sensitive method for imaging function in-vivo. Therefore, in this project, we aim to develop specific PET imaging biomarkers for AD.

 

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Goultchira Chakirova

Description of PhD:

 

Patients with prefrontal damage have difficulties in shifting cognitive set, an impaired ability to move attention between one stimulus dimension and another (extra-dimensional set-shifting) and a  failure to reverse previously acquired stimulus-reward associations (reversal learning). Growing evidence in both animal and human studies suggests that these functions are segregated within the prefrontal cortex and are differentially modulated by ascending monoaminergic inputs.  Behavioural experiments have shown set-shifting and reversal learning abnormalities in patients with schizophrenia, and deficits in set shifting in patients with bipolar disorder. These data, and the presence of similar behavioural deficits in animals with prefrontal lesions, suggest potentially separable neural mechanisms in these disorders. FMRI tasks have been devised to examine the neural basis of extra-dimensional set shifting and reversal learning, but a systematic comparison in people with psychosis has not yet been made. The successful applicant will develop two fMRI tasks based on ongoing pilot work: one that clarifies the neural basis of cognitive set shifting, and another which examines reversal learning. In years 2 and 3, the successful applicant will apply the tasks to a clinical sample of people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and control participants (20/group). The intention is to identify activation/connectivity profiles associated with these functions, clarify how these differ in patient groups and with a view to understanding how these deficits may relate to the aetiology of psychosis and its treatment.

 

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Ms Dorota Chapko

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Ms Lynne Gilfillan

Description of PhD:

 

Schizophrenia is a devastating illness that can affect as much as 1% of the population in developed countries. Antipsychotic drugs that target the dopamine receptor have been developed, however, these do not treat all the symptoms and have significant side effects. There is now evidence for glutamatergic dysfunction in schizophrenia and thus, the development of metabotropic glutamate Glu2/3 (mGlu2/3) receptor agonists could overcome the limitations of existing treatments. To exploit mGlu2/3 for the treatment of schizophrenia, biomarkers to probe glutamatergic transmission are urgently needed. The aim of this project is to develop new imaging agents for the mGlu2/3 site that could be used to evaluate novel glutamatergic drugs in vivo  and measure treatment response. Moreover, we plan to design and synthesise a high affinity precursor with multi-labelling positions that could be used for either PET or SPECT imaging. The SPECT studies involved with this project will be carried out in collaboration with Dr Sally Pimlott from the Glasgow Neuroimaging Research Group. The project will begin with the multi-step synthesis of a small library of novel diazepine-2-ones, compounds with structural motifs known to have affinity with mGlu2/3. Following biological evaluation of these, the most potent analogue with multi-labelling positions will be selected for development as both a PET and SPECT tracer. Successful tracers will then be used to study and develop a better understanding of glutamatergic transmission in schizophrenia.

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Andreas Glatz

Description of PhD:

 

A quarter of all strokes are due to abnormal microvessels, but this small vessel disease is also a major cause of age-related cognitive impairment and dementia. Some features of small vessel disease are visible on conventional structural MRI, but by the time these changes are visible, much damage may already have been done to the brain. Recently developed techniques enable detection of subtle early changes that may relate to small vessel and brain tissue damage. These include new methods that enable visualisation of the venular system (e.g. 3D multi-echo T2*-weighted sequences and phase mapping in conventional gradient echo MRI), of blood brain barrier function (permeability imaging using gadolinium and mathematical modelling), small vessel perfusion and brain mineralisation (iron in the form of basal ganglia deposits and microbleeds as well as calcium and other minerals). Realisation of the important role that brain mineral deposition may play in pathological processes is only now emerging so methods for detection and quantification of brain iron and of other minerals would be particularly valuable. All these techniques are only beginning to emerge, require further development and refinement particularly if quantitative measurements are to be made, and application in human studies to improve understanding of small vessel disease.    In this collaborative project with GE, the student will implement, modify and evaluate methods to increase sensitivity of sequences to brain mineralisation and other features of small vessel damage and to improve analysis of this novel imaging data. Of particular interest are developing and evaluating fast T1 and  T2-mapping sequences, incorporating phase information from 3D susceptibility-weighted acquisitions (e.g. GE’s “SWAN” sequence), improving segmentation of grey and white matter volumes using double inversion prepared isotropic T2-weighted acquisitions (e.g. GE’s “modified CUBE” sequence) and measuring small vessel perfusion. This will involve work with phantoms to characterise mineral signals ex vivo, sequence programming using GE’s EPIC programming language, evaluation in normal volunteers and existing data from patients with stroke and in studies of ageing in which phase information from gradient echo sequences has been acquired.  The student will work as part of a team that is focussing on a range of methods for imaging and quantifying the development and effects of small vessel disease in stroke, ageing and dementia.

 

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Mr Tristan Hollyer

Description of PhD:

Neural stem cell therapy for stroke: A rodent based project to identify potential MRI indices of functional recovery

Stroke is leading cause of severe disability in adults. The clot-buster, Alteplase is the only licensed drug available to treat acute stroke patients however, this is only available to a small percentage of total sufferers and must be administered within the first 4.5 hours after the onset of the stoke. Although substantial research has been carried out to develop new therapies for acute brain damage and chronic disability, the translation from bench-to-bedside has proved to be a significant hurdle.

Many groups have focused on administering stem cells of patient-own or external origin to enhance brain repair. The use of  the conditionally immortalized human neural stem cell line CTX0E03 to treat sub-acute/chronic stroke is soon to enter Phase II clinical trials.

My project is an adjunct to existing pre-clinical work; aiming to understand  how the cells improve recovery using clinically applicable MRI methodologies.

I have successfully developed functional tests suitable of detecting long term functional changes post stroke. With the support of Dr Jozien Goense, we have set up resting-state fMRI in the anaesthetised rodent. With this technique at our disposal, we hope to identify indices of functional improvement in resting-state sensorimotor networks and values derived from the diffusion tensor, which may correlated with improved sensorimotor function.

This is a SPIRIT funded studentship; the stem cell technology, surgical equipment, training and a contribution of supervision for this project are supplied by industrial partner, ReNeuron ltd. (Guildford, UK).

I am a registered STEM ambassador and have participated in outreach events with EuroStemCell.

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Mr Lewis Hou

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