SPUR 2020: Improved methods for measuring cardiac perfusion and fibrosis with MRI


The DiBella lab seeks to invent and refine new and better methods for the acquisition, reconstruction, and post-processing of MRI, with particular emphasis on cardiac and stroke applications. Our lab seeks to translate these improvements to clinical studies, and to use the methods to better understand physiology in health and disease. One set of current projects involves development of improved methods for measuring myocardial perfusion and fibrosis with MRI. Methods for higher spatial resolution, greater coverage, and elucidating differences across the cardiac cycle are being developed. We have pulse programmed new simultaneous multi-slice (SMS) and 3D acquisitions on the MRI scanner. Advanced reconstruction methods including constrained reconstruction and deep learning methods are also being developed for cardiac applications.

The stipend for this SPUR project is funded by an American Heart Association grant awarded to Dr. Stavros Drakos, MD, PhD. The stipend for this project is $4,000 instead of $5,000 due to grant funding limitations.

Student Role

We use custom matlab software to process the MRI data and obtain quantitative perfusion values in the heart in ml/min/g of blood flow to tissue. We need someone to learn this software, process data, and extend the software to do a better job of quantification and to help validate these improvements. We have need of student help in other projects as well, for example using microspheres to validate the MRI measurements.

Student Learning Outcomes & Benefits

The applicant will have more and more enhanced research skills, and more insight into cardiovascular research after this relatively brief training period in our laboratory. This should aid them in further refining their career goals and allow them to better map a strategy for reaching their career goals.

Ed DiBella

Radiology & Imaging Sciences
School of Medicine

I plan to gauge the applicant’s background and develop a training plan that has them actively involved in one or more of our research projects nearly immediately. They will need skills with matlab programming for some projects. Other projects involve more skills with sample preparation and attention to detail.

As the student becomes capable with certain skills such as programming or human imaging or work with animal studies, they will be given increasing personal responsibility for these studies.

Related Training and Course Work: The student will be trained by me or others in the group in the essential skills for whichever project is most appropriate. They will also participate in our monthly “RECON” (Research Connections) seminar, as well as our Radiology and Imaging Sciences Department MD/PhD seminar, a Deep Learning Journal Club, and our weekly DiBella group meetings. Depending on the project, we also work with cardiologists and radiologists.

My group is currently funded by two NIH R01s – (PI DiBella and PI Adluru – Dr. Ganesh Adluru is an assistant professor in our group). These fundings permit support of all studies related to the student’s projects.