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Current Research Projects at the MRRF

Research Faculty

Vincent Magnotta, PhD Vincent A. Magnotta, PhD        
Daniel Thedens, PhD Daniel R. Thedens, PhD        
Mathews Jacob, PhD Mathews Jacob, PhD        
Merry Mani, PhD

Merry P. Mani, PhD

Sajan Goud Lingala, PhD Sajan Goud Lingala, PhD    

The MR Research Facility currently supports more than 40 research projects from ten different departments within the University of Iowa. The primary utilization of the equipment has been for neuroimaging studies. This includes several large studies from the Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, Anesthesia, and Radiology. The majority of these studies have acquired anatomical brain scans for brain morphology studies. A smaller number of studies have utilized fMRI and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Other research projects have utilized MR imaging to study cardiac function, assess cartilage, liver fat content, and have evaluated subcutaneous facial implants. Four of our current research projects are outlined below.

T1ρ Imaging 

Nana Owusu, Ph.D Candidate 

My work entails a relaxation parameter (contrast) known as T1rho or longitudinal relaxation in the rotating frame. T1rho is a form of contrast in magnetic resonance imaging and this contrast is due to the exchange of protons in biological fluids. There is no consensus as to which species of protons in biological fluids contributes greatly to T1rho signal (e.g. due to pH, glucose, other macromolecules). Understanding more about the signal contribution may help clinicians in assessing treatment or explain more about ailments linked to abnormal metabolism like Huntington's disease, bipolar disorder I, cancer and epilepsy. I am also working on GE pulse sequence development for T1rho imaging. 

Neuroimaging Development and Clinical Applications

Chu-yu Lee, PhD

I am a neuroimaging scientist. I am developing advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to assess microstructure, metabolism, and iron deposition in the brain. I am also investigating applications of these MRI techniques in cancer and other neurological disorders.  With an engineering background, I find that the most rewarding part of my job is to work with an interdisciplinary team of physicists, chemists, and clinicians to tackle challenges in diagnosis and disease management and ultimately to improve patient care.                                                                        

Multivoxel MR Spectroscopy 

Jia Xu, PhD 

I am currently studying human brain pH environment and metabolites with 31P 3D MRSI techniques. I am interested in developing CEST and 3D MRSI techniques that are sensitive to brain metabolism; I am also very interested in developing automated pipeline for spectroscopic data analysis.