Recent Seminars

Seminar: A Projected Filter Algorithm for Dynamic SPECT


Dr. Youssef Qranfal has served as Professor of Applied Mathematics at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, Massachusetts since September 2015. His recent research focuses on optimization, operation research, statistics, and their applications. Prior to starting his career at WIT, Dr. Qranfal has worked in industry as an engineer in applied mathematics and computer science. He has authored many technical papers on applied mathematics to various fields such as medical imaging. They have been published in peer-reviewed journals, presented at technical conferences, and appeared in the proceedings of those conferences.

Images and visualization have become increasingly important in many areas of science and technology. Advances in hardware and software have allowed computerized image processing to become a standard tool in many scientific applications, including medical imaging. In this talk, Dr. Qranfal demonstrated how he models and solves the inverse problem of reconstructing a dynamic medical image where the signal strength changes substantially over the time required for data acquisition. His group uses a stochastic approach based on a Markov process to model the problem. They introduce a novel proximal approach and apply it during the Kalman filter algorithm to ensure positivity and spatial regularization. They have tested their method for the case of image reconstruction in time-dependent single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). The numerical results corroborate the effectiveness of their approach.

Prof. Qranfal discusses reconstruction of time-varying SPECT images

Seminar: High-Resolution MR Elastography of the Human Hippocampus


Curtis L. Johnson, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Delaware. He received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 2013 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he worked to develop techniques for magnetic resonance elastography (MRE). His research is in high-resolution MRE for assessing the structure, function, and health of the human brain for applications in neurology, neurosurgery, and neuroscience. He is a Junior Fellow of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) and serves as the Secretary of the ISMRM MR Elastography Study Group.

Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is an emerging technique for noninvasively characterizing the quantitative mechanical properties of tissues in vivo. These mechanical properties are highly sensitive to the structural integrity of tissue, and MRE has shown promise in diagnosing and staging diseases of many organs, including liver, breast, heart, and brain.

However, the ability to accurately characterize specific neuroanatomical structures has been limited by poor spatial resolution and the need for high signal-to-noise ratio in reasonable scan times. Specialized approaches to obtaining high-resolution brain MRE data are needed to improve the sensitivity and specificity of mechanical property measures.

In this talk Dr. Curtis Johnson discussed the work of his group in (1) high-resolution MRE techniques to target the hippocampus and (2) applications of hippocampal MRE in characterizing neurological conditions and the structural contributions to memory performance.

Dr. Curtis Johnson discussing his work using magnetic resonance elastography to characterize the mechanical properties of tissue

Seminar: Research Agreement Types

As a Senior Agreement Advisor and Contracts Team Lead, Rebecca Dufur, J.D., M.A, drafts, reviews, and negotiates research agreements from state and federal government agencies, academic institutions, public and private foundations, and other non-profit organizations. She worked in clinical research for over 12 years, during which time she attended Suffolk University Law School as an evening student. Rebecca has been with Partners Research Management since 2014.

There are several types of agreements associated with research. They vary according to factors such as the the nature of the research and the funding source.

Rebecca Dufur discussed the fundamental differences between grants and contracts, and both funded and unfunded research agreement types including subcontracts, professional services agreements (PSAs), memorandum of understanding (MOUs), confidential disclosure agreement (CDAs), data use agreements (DUAs) and other research support agreements.

Rebecca Dufur discusses types of research agreements

2017 Gordon Science Symposium Featuring Dr. Rudolph Tanzi


Dr. Rudolph Tanzi is a Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and and the Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He co-discovered three of the first Alzheimer’s disease genes and has identified several others in the Alzheimer’s Genome Project, which he directs. Dr. Tanzi was the keynote speaker of the 2017 Gordon Science Symposium and its annual David Elmaleh Lecture. Below is the summary of his inaugural address titled “Alzheimer’s disease: a story of genes, glia, and germs”.

Dr. Rudolph Tanzi delivering the Inaugural Elmaleh Lecture of the 2017 Gordon Science Symposium

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia affecting the elderly and is characterized by global cognitive decline. AD is strongly influenced by both genetic factors and lifestyle. While certain rare gene mutations, e.g. in the APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2 genes guarantee onset of AD before 60 years old, most cases of AD (>97%) involve genetic susceptibility factors, e.g. APOE, and lifestyle, e.g. diet, exercise, sleep, intellectual and social engagement, stress levels, and brain trauma. Most recently we have found that low-grade infections, e.g. bacterial, fungal, viral, in the brain may also play a role by rapidly nucleating beta-amyloid deposition as an antimicrobial protection response of the brain's innate immune system. Genetic susceptibility factors have been elucidated over the past decade using genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and more recently by follow up with whole genome sequencing (WGS) and whole exome sequencing (WES). We are now carrying out GWAS using approximately 50 million single nucleotide variants (SNV) from WGS and WES (whole genome sequencing association studies; WGSAS). As AD-linked/associated functional SNVs are identified in these studies, they are being tested in our 3D human stem cell-derived neural culture models of AD, in which we have shown beta-amyloid directly drives tangle formation. Many of the more recently identified AD genes are involved in innate immunity, e.g. CD33, which we first reported in our family-based GWAS in 2008 (along with ADAM10 and ATXN1). To study CD33 and other innate immune-related AD genes, we have incorporated microglia into our 3D neural cultures while also utilizing classic transgenic mouse models.

Accelerating Data Acquisition for Anatomical, Physiological, and Functional MRI


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides various methods for imaging anatomical, physiological, and functional information of our body noninvasively. In a conference organized by the Gordon Center, Dr. Sung-Hong Park, from the South Korean university of KAIST, discussed the latest imaging modalities for acceleration of data acquisition in terms of pulse sequences and image reconstructions. These modalities include (i) acquisition of time-of-flight MR angiogram and blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) MR venogram, (ii) application of compressed sensing to arterial spin labeling, a non-invasive perfusion MRI technqiue, (iii) simultaneous acquisiton of blood perfusion and magnetization transfer (MT) with 2D inter-slice blood flow and MT effects, and (iv) acceleration of functional MRI with compressed sensing.

Dr. Sung-Hong Park is Associate Professor at the Department of Bio & Brain Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). He was the guest speaker at a lecture organized by the MGH Gordon Center.

Assessment and Management of Bulbar Motor Involvement Due to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis


Dr. Jordan R. Green is the Director of the MGH IHP Speech and Feeding Disorders Lab, and holds academic appointments in the Departments of Communication Sciences and Disorders at MGH Institutes of Health Professions, and at the Speech & Hearing Biosciences and Technology program at the Harvard Medical School. Dr. Green was the guest speaker at a lecture organized by the MGH Gordon Center. Below is the presentation summary.

Progressive motor deterioration due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) leads to the eventual impairment of speech and swallowing function. Despite the devastating consequences of speech impairment to life quality, few options are available to objectively assess the integrity of the speech motor system and to assist impaired oral communication. The long-term goals of current research led by Dr. Green is to derive objective measures of speech performance that can be used to support diagnosis and clinical decision-making, and to develop new pathways of oral communication for the speech impaired (i.e., a real-time articulatory movement-driven speech synthesizer).

Dr. Jordan R. Green delivering his presentation at the MGH Gordon Center

PET-Based Molecular Imaging in Personalized Oncology


Antonia Dimitrakopoulou-Strauss M.D. is Professor of Nuclear Medicine at the German Cancer Research Center. She was the guest speaker at a lecture organized by the MGH Gordon Center. Below is the presentation summary.

Molecular imaging techniques allow a better staging as well as an individualization and optimization of therapy in oncological patients. The availability of new hybrid scanners, like PET-CT and PET-MRI have revolutionized both diagnosis and therapy management and are therefore a unique tool for personalized cancer treatment. Identification of non-responders early in the course of treatment, the choice of the appropriate therapeutic protocol as well as optimal treatment duration are some aspects which can be improved by the use of molecular imaging techniques and can help to avoid side effects and save costs for the health system. Furthermore, therapies with new targeted drugs, like tyrosine kinase inhibitors or immune checkpoint inhibitors require also a tight monitoring for assessment of a therapeutic result and a fast change to another protocol in case of progress. Standardization of response criteria is another important aspect and a prerequisite for a more routine application of molecular imaging for therapy guidance. Furthermore, the development of new tumor-specific tracers will enable a more accurate assessment of a therapeutic result. Numerous peptides targeting receptoractive tumors are in development with a high potential in a large spectrum of tumors for theranostic approaches, like in neuroendocrine tumors and in prostate cancer.

Dr. Dimitrakopoulou-Strauss delivering her presentation at the MGH Gordon Center

Personalization of Nanotherapeutics Delivery


Dr. Anne van de Ven is a Research Assistant Professor at Northeastern University. She was the guest speaker at a lecture organized by the MGH Gordon Center. Below is the presentation summary.

Intravital microscopy allows the visualization of nanoparticle transport across a sequence of multi-scale physical barriers. Data collected using this approach can be used to simulate, predict, and improve nanoparticle designs for drug and contrast agent delivery to solid tumors. Dr. van de Ven presented an integrated framework that combines patient-derived xenografts, exogenous contrast agents, and experimental nanoparticles to study how patient-specific transport parameters can impact nanotherapeutics delivery.

According to Dr. van de Ven, preliminary data suggests that only a subset of patients will be highly amenable to nanotherapy. Using ferumoxytol as a surrogate, she is currently developing MRI techniques to quantify nanoparticle delivery and relate it to therapeutic efficacy in vivo for the personalized selection of therapy.

Dr. Anne van de Ven delivering her presentation at the MGH Gordon Center