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Spinal Cord Injury Center, Research

Towards in-vivo histology (hMRI) in SCI using Ultra-high field 7T MRI

Project leader: Dr. Maryam Seif


Project IRP

This project is led by Dr. Maryam Seif and funded with IRP research grant. We aim at developing and applying advanced diagnostic measures of neuronal and axonal integrity within the cervical cord and brain that governs the upper limbs of humans. In particular, we will develop a high-resolution quantitative MRI protocol sensitive to tissue micro-structural changes that can serve as in-vivo histology (hMRI) in entire cervical cord and brain of SCI patients on an FDA approved 7T scanner. This novel approach enables us to track the spatiotemporal dynamics of SCI-induced neurodegeneration (SCI fingerprint) and microstructural changes beyond microstructural findings as revealed by 3T MRI following injury with ultra-high resolution (e.g., 200-600 µm).

This project represents an important step towards the adoption of UHF MRI protocol in advanced diagnostic tools. The established hMRI protocol will allow full assessment of the microstructural. Crucially, once established in SCI, they are transferable to any spinal cord pathology and to basic neuroscience research questions. The information gained from cervical cord and brain hMRI is of great important because a detailed understanding of the pathophysiological processes could provide crucial insights that may facilitate treatment effect monitoring in therapeutic intervention. Therefore, the latter will also improve the prediction of individual recovery trajectories and help to design more specific clinical trial in SCI.