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Warwick Medical Imaging Network

W-MIN is a Network of Excellence funded by the Science and Technology for Health GRP. It is led by Joanna Collingwood (School Engineering) and Tom Nichols (Statistics & WMG).

W-MIN is broad in scope, not just focusing on brain or even human imaging, but all types of research involving imaging in a biomedical context.

The monthly network meeting is on the last Friday of every month, from 3pm – 4pm in WMG’s IDH auditorium, unless otherwise advertised. The meeting usually includes a seminar on a medical imaging topic, and volunteer speakers or suggestions for topics to be covered are welcomed.

We have also run an introductory course to fMRI (including the course materials).

To be added to the mailing list, please contact Joanna Collingwood or Tom Nichols.

Upcoming Seminars:

Our regular seminar is on the last Friday of each month, in the International Digital Laboratory auditorium at 3pm, with refreshments available beforehand from 2.30 pm.

We are delighted to confirm our forthcoming speakers as follows:

Friday 27th FebruarySebastiano Massaro, Assistant Professor of Behavioural Science, Warwick Business School - “Cargo cult neurosciences and beyond?”

Abstract: The sustained resonance of neuroimaging techniques, promising an unparalleled window into the engine of our choices, emotions, ethical, and social behavior, has prompted growing attempts of scholars in various social and applied disciplines for new insights from the neurocognitive and behavioral sciences. However, these sectorial – often self-referential – scholarly waves are recurrently being matched by a flourishing of unsubstantiated debates, eagerness to pioneer “neurodisciplines,” questionable and amateurish outputs, with consequent waste of resources, as well as contributing to infuse a public misperception on the scientific boundaries of the neural, behavioral, and cognitive sciences. Taking as narrative contemporary cases in the business scholarship, and introducing a pilot investigation on the physio-psychological dynamics of highly-skilled individuals, this talk aims to both recognize opportunities from business research to contribute to the neurosciences and, importantly, alert the scientific community on the risky diffusion of academic pseudosciences. It will also offer an occasion to reflect together on the nature and state-of-the-art of behavioral science research at Warwick and explore potential future initiatives.

Biography: Sebastiano is Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science at the Warwick Business School and the Deputy Lead of the University of Warwick’s Global Research Priority in Behavioral Science. He is the inaugural PhD graduate of the UCL Management Science and Innovation Department (2013) and holds MRes in Neuroscience summa cum laude from the University of Trieste and the International School of Advanced Studies, Italy. He held visiting positions at the London Business School and Boston University and, among others, worked at Elettra Synchrotron Light Source and at the UCL Institute of Child Health. His current work investigates the role of affect and emotions in the workplace, employing methods of, and insights from, business and neuroscience research.


27th March 2015: Professor Karla Miller, FMRIB, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, University of Oxford: Website

Title: Adventures in post-mortem imaging: sea mammals, polarized light and the 2-week scan marathon

Abstract: While in-vivo MRI is a crucial technology for modern human neuroscience, much of what we know about the brain is based on various forms of post-mortem examination. Given the complementary strengths of in-vivo imaging and post-mortem examination, it is perhaps suprirsing that there hasn’t been a larger effort to link these two important sources of information about the brain. One major hurdle is that in-vivo MRI methods cannot be trivially deployed in post-mortem brains. We have been developing methods for post-mortem diffusion imaging specifically aimed to address these issues. In this talk, I will briefly overview the technical challenges and our proposed solutions, before describing three broad types of investigation that we are now undertaking with this data. First, we are using post-mortem imaging to better understand the relationship between various MRI signals and their histopathological correlates in neurodegeneration. Second, we aim to develop improved models of diffusion MRI signals by comparing diffusion and microscopic estimates of fibre architecture in the same tissue samples. Third, we are using diffusion tractography of brain specimens to enable comparative anatomy across species that are not accessible to tracers, dissection or other forms of connectivity analysis. While these studies are all at an early stage, each highlights a unique potential insight that post-mortem MRI could contribute to neuroscience.

Professor Miller’s group develops novel methods for acquiring, reconstructing and analyzing MRI scans of the brain. Her early research focused on techniques for studying brain function and connectivity. More recently, she has also begun to develop techniques for studying tissue microstructure with MRI. MRI is a powerful method for studying the human brain non-invasively; however, current methods suffer from limitations of both sensitivity and specificity. She is leading several projects that aim to address some of the shortcomings of the current generation of MRI techniques. They are developing methods to measure aspects of tissue microstructure that are central to neuronal health and disease. They further aim to improve understanding of MRI data in living subjects by comparing scans of post-mortem brains donated to tissue banks with microscopy in the same tissue. Finally, using ultra-high-field MRI scanners and sophisticated signal processing methods, they are developing fast functional MRI acquisition techniques, specifically aimed at measures of brain connectivity. These methods will enable neuroscientists to study the brain with greater precision. Her group is actively involved in collaborations with neuroscience colleagues in Oxford and elsewhere to study neuronal health and disease.

Please encourage all colleagues and students who might be interested to attend – these events are not limited to W-MIN members – and we very much look forward to seeing you there.

Previous Seminars

November 2014: Professor Thomas Nichols, Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Basic Biomedical Science, and Head of Neuroimaging Statistics at the Institute for Digital Healthcare (Warwick Manufacturing Group & the Department of Statistics at University of Warwick).

Talk title: "Multivariate and mass-univariate approaches to whole-brain whole-genome association"

Abstract: There has been great interest in discovering and understanding the role of genetic variation in neuroimaging phenotypes. Typical imaging genetics studies use a small number of candidate SNPs, a small number of brain regions, or both. In this talk I will consider methods for searching for gene-brain associations over the entire genome and all brain regions. Such an approach presents massive computational and statistical challenges. I'll discuss two approaches, a mass-univariate approach and a multivariate approach. A mass-univariate model is the standard tool in neuroimaging analysis, but scaling it up for 100,000 SNPs requires a series of computational and statistical innovations. With our method applied to Tensor-Based Morphometry data from the ADNI project, we report the first gene-brain association to survive whole-genome, whole-brain familywise error correction. Our multivariate approach uses a Sparse Reduced Rank Regression (sRRR) to jointly and parsimoniously explain gene-brain associations. Detailed power analyses show that the multivariate approach should have even greater power than the univariate approach.

Biography: Thomas Nichols is a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Basic Biomedical Science, a Professor and the Head of Neuroimaging Statistics at the Institute for Digital Healthcare, holding a joint position between Warwick Manufacturing Group & the Department of Statistics. Before joining the University of Warwick he was the Director of Modelling & Genetics at the GlaxoSmithKline Clinical Imaging Centre at Hammersmith Hospital in London, where he worked on statistical methods for fMRI in the context of clinical trials, and integrating genetic data into brain image analyses. Before coming to the UK he was an Associate Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan, and in 2001 received his Ph.D. in statistics from Carnegie Mellon University where he also trained in cognitive neuroscience. He has been active in the field of functional neuroimaging since 1992, when he worked at the University of Pittsburgh's PET Center as a programmer and statistician. Professor Nichols' research focuses on modelling and inference of neuroimaging data, including PET, fMRI & M/EEG.

October 2014: Professor Andrew Peet (PhD, FRCPCH), NIHR Professor of Paediatric Oncology, University of Birmingham

Talk title: "From Molecule to Improved Non-Invasive Diagnosis of Children's Brain Tumours"

Abstract: Magnetic resonance imaging has become the mainstay for investigation of brain tumours. It is mainly used to produce anatomical images which are interpreted qualitatively. The technique can also provide information on tissue properties and the combining this with sophisticated quantitative analysis has the potential to improve non-invasive diagnosis and tissue characterisation. Developing the techniques in the lab, evaluating them in the clinic and then disseminating them to routine clinical practice is long and complex process. This presentation will show how this can be realised to good effect in children’s brain tumours.

Biography: Professor Andrew Peet is an NIHR Research Professor at the University of Birmingham and a Consultant in Paediatric Oncology at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. His research area is in the development and evaluation of new imaging techniques for the assessment of childhood disease. He is the Research Director of the NIHR 3T MRI Research Centre and chairs the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group’s Functional Imaging Group and the International Society for Paediatric Oncology Europe Brain Imaging Group. Professor Peet has more than 100 publications in the field including an invited article in Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology.

September 2014: Dr Emma Chung, Senior Research Fellow at University of Leicester in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences

Talk title: ‘Modelling cardiovascular physiology’. 26/09/14. Modelling Cardiovascular Physiology(Powerpoint Presentation)

Abstract: This seminar highlights some of the techniques Dr Chung and her colleagues are developing for use in modelling cardiovascular physiology, ranging from the growth of realistic arterial trees 'in silico', electrical circuit and laboratory models of the cerebral arteries, Monte-Carlo simulation of embolic debris moving through the cerebral vasculature, Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics simulations of blood flow, and new approaches to monitoring cerebral blood flow regulation and tissue pulsatility in the 'pulsing brain'.

Biography: Emma Chung is a former PhD student from the Warwick Physics Department, who is now working as a Senior Research Fellow within the Stroke and Medical Physics Group of the University of Leicester (UoL) Department of Cardiovascular Sciences. Her work combines ultrasound and MRI imaging, computational modelling, clinical measurements and laboratory research to provide a better understanding of cerebrovascular physiology in health and disease. She is an Honorary Medical Physicist within the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Course Leader for the UoL Physics Department option in Medical Physics, Associate Editor of 'Ultrasound', and a Member of Council of the British Medical Ultrasound Society. From 2008-2013 Emma held a prestigious British Heart Foundation Intermediate Basic Science Research Fellowship. Her research is currently supported by the EPSRC, NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Unit, TH Wathes Foundation, Nihon Kohden (Japan) and the Wellcome Trust.


July 2014: Dr Keith White, University of Florida

Talk title: Magnetic Resonance Imaging developments at the University of Florida and NF/SG VA Medical Centre

Abstract: This talk will span several areas of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology that I am currently involved in developing. These include an optical method for capturing small motions of the head, where the information is used to improve the signal-to-noise ratio in the reconstructed images. This has led to patented technology, and the next step is to implement online and real-time correction during image acquisition. I will also discuss a method for "calibrating" fMRI activations. For the most part fMRI activations are measured in statistical figures of merit (like t-tests or F-tests) without a corresponding physical unit for magnitude. My approach is to generate a micro-Tesla field in the subject's brain at the region of interest, which field-varies in time to simulate the endogenously generated response. I have demonstrated the approach with fMRI data obtained while performing a motor task, and the aim is to enable comparisons between subjects and across platforms when the background noise in the statistical measures may be different. Further work includes analytical algorithms with potential application to the analysis of mineral deposits in tissue, with emphasis on classifying ‘outlier’ voxels of interest, rather than finding statistical norms.

Biography: Keith White earned a PhD in Experimental Psychology from Brown University, specializing in visual psychophysics, in 1976. Having subsequently joined the University of Florida (UF) faculty, he learned about functional MRI in 1999, and developed interests in post-stroke aphasia and its rehabilitation, using fMRI to monitor brain plasticity. In the same year he joined the newly established Brain Rehabilitation Research Center of Excellence at the Malcom Randall Veterans' Affairs Medical Center and continues to work in the Center's Brain Function measurement Core. In addition to fMRI he now uses MRI modalities such as diffusion weighted imaging and tractography, relaxometry, and susceptibility weighted imaging, to study rehabilitation of stroke and traumatic brain injury patients. He is also a member of the UF Center for Movement Disorders and Neuro-Rehabilitation, which specializes in neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's disease, and collaborates with the UF Memory Disorders clinic on studies of Alzheimer's disease, fronto-temporal lobar degeneration, and related disorders.


June 2014: Dr Gemma-Louise Davies, Global Research Fellow from the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS), University of Warwick

Talk title: Nanoparticles as Medical Imaging Probes

Abstract: Nanomaterials have the ability to revolutionise a wide variety of fields, from medicine to industry. This talk will describe the design of nanocomposite magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents which demonstrate high relaxivities and bio-responsive contrast switching, as well as fluorescent nanoparticles as optical imaging probes.

Biography: Dr Gemma-Louise Davies carried out her Undergraduate degree in Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in Ireland, remaining there to work towards her PhD in the School of Chemistry and CRANN Institute under the supervision of Prof Yurii Gun'ko. She completed her PhD investigating functional nanomaterials in 2011. After a brief Industry-supported Postdoctoral position in TCD, Gemma-Louise moved to the picturesque University of Oxford to work as a Postdoctoral research assistant for 2 years in the group of Dr Jason Davis, working closely with Profs Paul Beer and Stephen Faulkner on bi-functional 1H and 19F MRI contrast agents. She joined Warwick in October 2013 as an Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) Global Research Fellow, hosted in the Department of Chemistry. Her research is strongly interdisciplinary, lying at the interface between chemistry, materials science and medicine, and she is currently focussing on the development of new multi-purpose medical diagnostic and therapeutic devices: the emerging field of ‘theranostics’.


fMRI lectures:

As part of the W-MIN, Thomas Nichols and Camille Maumet are organising a short course on fMRI, drawing material from various sources including both the SPM and FSL course lecture notes. We will meet Fridays at 3pm-4pm whenever the W-MIN seminar is not on, that is, each Friday except the last Friday of the month. Videos of the short course are available on the Echo 360 Lecture Capture system.

Friday 11th June. 2014
(IDL, Syndicate room)
Prof. Thomas Nichols, University of Warwick.
Group Analysis & Mixed effects. [ Lecture Video ]

Lecture material: Slides | Supplemental Math/Stat Details
Additional Reading: While quite detailed, I find Penny & Holmes' Chapter 15 of the SPM Book is a great reference.
Friday 4th June. 2014
(IDL, Syndicate room)
Prof. Thomas Nichols, University of Warwick.
Experimental Design. [ Lecture Video ]

Additional Reading: The excellent Design Efficiency website by Rik Henson. Similar, but in a more traditional format is Henson's Chapter 10 of the SPM Book, giving great detail on the analysis and modelling of block and event-related fMRI data.
Friday 20th June. 2014
(IMC, room 106)
Prof. Thomas Nichols, University of Warwick.
Inference on Images. [ Lecture Slides & Audio only (sorry, camera failed to work) ]

Lecture material: Thresholding
Additional Reading: Corresponding (but much less detailed) FSL course slides;
Section IV-B of the SPM introduction has a very short summary;
Chapter 14 of the SPM Book has a gentle introduction to Random Field Theory,
while Chapter 15 has a more mathematical overview; Chapter 16 covers permutation inference.
Friday 23rd May. 2014 Prof. Thomas Nichols, University of Warwick.
GLM Introduction: Modelling the BOLD Response. [ Lecture Video ]

Lecture material: FSL Lecture Notes
Additional Material: Section IV-A of the SPM introduction has a very short summary
Chapters 10 & 11 of the SPM Book have extensive details on BOLD modelling.
Friday 16th May. 2014 Prof. Thomas Nichols, University of Warwick.
Spatial Preprocessing. Lecture material: FSL Lecture Notes
Additional Material: Section III of the SPM introduction has a very short summary
Chapters 2-6 of the SPM Book have extensive details on the corresponding pre-processing steps.
Friday 2nd May. 2014 Prof. Thomas Nichols, University of Warwick.
MR Physics - physiological basis of BOLD. [ Lecture Video ]

Lecture material: A Primer on MRI and Functional MRI, Doug Noll.
Additional reading: Less detail, a little more detail (see Ch 1-5), and lots more technical detail. Slides: FSL Course Intro

For more information on the course, please contact Camille Maumet.

Previous seminars:

Friday 28th Mar. 2014 Dr Victoria Bull, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
Friday 28th Feb. 2014 Dennis Leech (Professor of Economics - Warwick) and
Robert Leech (Senior Lecturer - Division of Brain Sciences in the Department of Medicine, Imperial College).
“Intransitive Preferences, Arrow's Impossibility Theorem and the Society of Mind: a Preliminary Analysis Using fMRI"
Abstract and biographies | Talk Slides
Friday 31st Jan. 2014 Prof Theo Arvantis - Prof of e-Health Innovation - IDH
"Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy in Childhood Brain Tumours"
Friday 6th Jan. 2014 Prof Charles Hutchinson - Professor of Clinical Imaging - WMS/UHCW