ARIT 2017 Poster Session Feature: Alexander Rauscher

Going beyond pure text, bridges will feature Austrian scientists from a new perspective in 2018, taking creative cues to communicate their science in a different light, tone, and color.

Discover the work of Alexander Rauscher, our third scientist featured in the ARIT 2017 Poster Session Showcase. 

What do I want to achieve with my research?

Rather than with text, our scientists, answer this essential question using an image, emoji, cartoon or limerick. 

*

[*The answer is resonance, which is captured by this altered picture of ski tracks. In magnetic resonance imaging, electromagnetic waves are translated into images. ] 

"How does my research make others feel?"

Our scientists mimics speak stronger than words! 

Your Science in Action: Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping – a catalyst for enhanced brain imaging

Alexander Rauscher’s research program on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been previously explored in the Bridges blog. At ARIT 2017, his presentation introduced Austrian scientists to yet another recent advance in brain mapping – one that is not only much faster than previous imaging methods, but yields higher-quality images.

Much of this progress stemmed from the work of Christian Kames, currently a graduate student in Rauscher’s lab at the University of British Columbia. The enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique, called quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM), provides a novel contrast mechanism that can be used to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with various types of brain injury: for example, football or ice hockey players who have experienced frequent concussions; patients with small vessel disease, which entails inflammation and myelin loss; as well as patients with the well-known autoimmune demyelinating disease, multiple sclerosis (MS).

MRI technology is based on the capacity to detect changes in the spin of hydrogen atom protons of water molecules in body tissues – signals are emitted as a result of magnetic fields imposed by the MRI device and intermittent application of radio-frequency pulses. The emitted signal gradually weakens after each pulse. The rate at which the signal emitted by different tissue types decays is the main source of image contrast in MRI. A second property of the MRI signal is its frequency, which is related to the magnetic properties of tissues. Specifically, QSM is now able to transform MRI information into maps that show the tissues’ “magnetic properties.” Innovations developed in Rauscher’s lab have been moving MRI from a qualitative technique to one that can “create quantitative maps.” MS lesions, for example, typically undergo changes in iron content as well as myelin – and QSM maps portray iron-rich regions of the brain as very bright, while myelin-rich areas appear dark, creating images with great detail and contrast. This sensitive technique has also enabled scientists to notice that increased signal frequency coincides with periods in which conventional MRI detects new MS lesions. The technique can be used to differentiate between normal and damaged myelin as much as three months before a new MS lesion appears, a “predictive” capacity that opens the possibility of evaluating tissue-protective approaches to MS. The precision of these advances in QSM also enables scientists to track tissue changes during clinical trials, to determine whether a new MS drug is effective. "Due to the technique’s high sensitivity, future drug trials may become much faster and cheaper," predicts Rauscher. In light of the rapid advances in MRI over the past few years, it wouldn’t be surprising at all!

My favorite scientists are:

my students.

If you read one science website/ blog/ book, it should be:

Energy and Civilization: A History by Vaclaw Smil

Without science:

... at my present age, I would be among the oldest people on the planet.

My eureka moment was:

… when I realized that I have the best ideas when I am far away from my office, or technology in general.

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ABOUT THE SERIES

The ARIT 2017 Poster Session Showcase will highlight select Austrian scientists of the Research and Innovation Network Austria. These scientists all participated in the coveted ARIT 2017 Poster Session, after having been selected by an expert jury from the ASCINA network and the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation

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ARIT 2017 Poster Session Feature: Patricia Bubner
 

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Thursday, 24 May 2018