Susceptibility and Relaxation and Iron-Sensitive MRI
At the University of Alberta we have a 100% research 4.7 T human MRI system and a 3.0 T Siemens Prisma. These high field instruments offer unique sensitivity to iron through susceptibility and relaxation effects. Iron may be an early marker of neurodegeneration in the brain, as well as being an indicator of changes in deoxygenation and iron storage. It is an extremely important element in the human brain and we are lucky to be sensitized to its measurement when using high field MRI. Our work is finding that iron may be a biomarker of disease state, particularly for multiple sclerosis. More generally, we exploit MRI physics and engineering to enhance imaging methods or "pulse sequences" in new ways to gain more value from MRI. We are interested in susceptibility, structural and relaxation methods, as well as blood vessel imaging and spectroscopy. See my publication section for detailed reading.
A general comment is we want to bring about revolutions in the use of MRI by exploring untapped research areas. We generally do modelling in MATLAB and then apply our advances to normal volunteers and to specific diseases where the new methods can make a difference. One of the strengths of the program is the wide range of collaborating physicians in neurological and psychiatric diseases including depression, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, blood vessel disease and dementia. Once we develop new methods, we can apply them to a wide range of diseases within our MRI center with their help.
Another important aspect is that we own all our MRI machines and thus they are available for research all day long. Most students are thus able to complete all scanning needs in daytime hours and lead normal lives. Lastly from an international perspective, the ranking of the University can also be important, where University of Alberta is typically the 4th ranked school in Canada.