PHYSICS & ASTRONOMY COLLOQUIA Magnetic resonance imaging of white matter brain networks and their involvement in multiple sclerosis Dr. Chase R. Figley Department of Radiology Max Rady College of Medicine University of Manitoba
Despite advances in our ability to characterize human brain anatomy and microstructure with novel MRI methods like diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and Myelin Water Imaging (MWI), these improvements have not yet translated into better diagnostic or prognostic capabilities in multiple sclerosis (MS) or other white matter disorders. In other words, more sophisticated data acquisition methods alone have not overcome the well-known “clinico-radiological paradox” (i.e., where imaging biomarkers such as white matter lesion volume does not reliably predict specific patients’ clinical outcomes). Fortunately, our knowledge about how the brain is organized into large-scale functional networks offers a number of clues regarding how these problems might be dealt with using more sophisticated analysis approaches. In this talk, I will therefore briefly introduce MS (i.e., clinical symptoms, how it is currently diagnosed, and the hallmark pathologies) as well as some of the previous work in my lab to map the organization and topology of white matter regions underlying various brain networks. I will then provide an overview of the local Comorbidities and Cognition in MS (CCOMS) Study, and discuss some recent work suggesting that MS likely targets some of these networks, and that these network-specific effects account for individual differences in specific functional deficits (e.g., cognitive decline) much better than global white matter measures.
I am currently a tenured Associate Professor within the Department of Radiology (Max Rady College of Medicine) at the University of Manitoba. I also hold adjunct (nil-salaried) appointments as a Principal Investigator within the Neuroscience Research Program at the Kleysen Institute for Advanced Medicine, Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program (University of Manitoba), and Diagnostic Imaging (Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre). Before moving to Winnipeg in September 2013, I completed a BSc (Honors) in Chemistry at the University of Saskatchewan (2001-2005), a PhD in Neuroscience at Queen’s University (2005-2010), and a CIHR-sponsored Postdoctoral Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University (2010-2013). The ongoing research in my lab is primarily focused on developing and applying advanced neuroimaging methods – e.g., functional MRI (fMRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), myelin water imaging (MWI), and voxel based morphometry (VBM) – to study brain structure and function in both healthy and clinical populations. I am currently an elected member of the Max Rady College of Medicine Executive Council and the University of Manitoba Senate, and recent/current funding for my lab includes grants from NSERC, Research Manitoba, Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre Foundation, Paul H.T. Thorlakson Foundation, and the MS Society of Canada.