I am interested in understanding the microstructural and pathological determinants which govern T1 and T2 relaxation measures in central nervous system (CNS) tissue.
My primary area of research is multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is a disease of the central nervous system where myelin, the insulating sheath that surrounds neurons to increase signal transmission speed, is attacked. Changes in water content from inflammation and edema, loss of axons and scarring, or gliosis, can also occur, leading to symptoms and disability. MS affects everyone differently because it depends on where in the brain and/or spinal cord damage occurs – one person could have problems seeing, another person may feel numbness in their arm and someone else might have difficulty multi-tasking or remembering things. Conventional MRI is great at detecting focal areas of damage, known as lesions, but is not very specific to the type of damage. I am interested in developing, applying and validating new MR methods which will more accurately characterize the pathology that occurs in MS. Studying the brain and spinal cord changes that occur in people living with MS will help us understand the mechanisms of damage that lead to symptoms and disability, a crucial step in developing effective treatments and ultimately a cure.
I have been involved in MS research for 18 years. I was recently funded by the Women Against MS Transitional Career Development Award from the endMS Research and Training Network and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.
Other central nervous system diseases and disorders
I am also interested in developing, applying and validating new MR methods for other central nervous system diseases and disorders including spinal cord injury, brain tumours, schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease, phenylketonuria, Krabbe disease, dyslexia and dyscalculia.
To interpret abnormalities in disease it is important to fully characterize and understand observations in healthy brain and spinal cord. By conducting MRI studies on healthy controls and NMR experiments on bovine brain, I am interested in investigating the role of tissue architecture and exchange on T1 and T2 derived measures.