The McKnight Brain Institute has named the 2014 Neuroimaging Pilot Grant awardees. Fuller’s project is one of five selected to receive the award of $25,000 for one year. The MBI Neuroimaging Pilot Grants were established to support pilot studies using the AMRIS facility or developing novel neuroimaging capabilities. The aim and details of the project are:
“High Angular Resolution Imaging of Cervical Respiratory Pathway following Spinal Cord”
Dr. David Fuller, Department of Physical Therapy
Dr. John Forder, Department of Radiology
Dr. Baba Vemuri, Department of Computer & Information Sciences
Dr. Ronald Mandel, Department of Neuroscience
This project combines expertise in SCI modeling and respiratory neurophysiology (D.D. Fuller, Dept. of Physical Therapy,), MRI imaging (J. Forder, Depts. of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering), mathematical assessment of MRI data (B. Vemuri, Dept. of Computer & Information Science & Engineering), and AAV gene therapy for neurological disorders (R. Mandel, Dept. of Neuroscience). Drs. Vemuri and Forder have recently developed novel computational methods for visualizing spinal axonal bundles using high angular resolution images (HARDI). The overarching goal of this project is to determine if these MRI tractography methods can quantify changes in axonal pathways to respiratory motoneurons following cervical SCI. We will also couple the MRI imaging with an adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated approach designed to enhance axonal growth in spinal pathways. These spinal gene transfer experiments are designed to enhance respiratory plasticity and recovery, and to determine if the HARDI analysis methods can detect AAV-mediated changes in the spinal cord.