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Neurogenetic profiles delineate large-scale connectivity dynamics of the human brain


Dr. Jorge Sepulcre, an Assistant Professor of Radiology at HMS and Assistant in Neuroscience at the MGH Gordon Center. His research focuses on large-scale brain networks implicated in human cognition and neurodegenerative disorders.

His article titled “Neurogenetic profiles delineate large-scale connectivity dynamics of the human brain” has been published in Nature Communications on the 24th of September 2018.


Experimental and modeling work of neural activity has described recurrent and attractor dynamic patterns in cerebral microcircuits. However, it is still poorly understood whether similar dynamic principles exist or can be generalizable to the large-scale level. Here, we applied dynamic graph theory-based analyses to evaluate the dynamic streams of whole-brain functional connectivity over time across cognitive states. Dynamic connectivity in local networks is located in attentional areas during tasks and primary sensory areas during rest states, and dynamic connectivity in distributed networks converges in the default mode network (DMN) in both task and rest states. Importantly, we find that distinctive dynamic connectivity patterns are spatially associated with Allen Human Brain Atlas genetic transcription levels of synaptic long-term potentiation and long-term depression-related genes. Our findings support the neurobiological basis of large-scale attractor-like dynamics in the heteromodal cortex within the DMN, irrespective of cognitive state.


Raiyan Zaman receives WMIC award


Dr. Raiyan T. Zaman of the MGH Gordon Center won a WIMIN Award at the WMIC conference.

Dr. Zaman’s work on Harnessing Radioluminescence and Sound to Reveal Molecular Pathology of In Vivo Atherosclerotic Plaques received the Women in Molecular Imaging Network Scholar Award from the World Molecular Imaging Congress on September 2018. These prestigious awards are granted to presenters of meritorious scientific papers at WMIC Annual Meetings. This study was based on her K99 award funded by the NIH-NHLBI.

Raiyan Zaman receives AAPM award


Dr. Raiyan T. Zaman of the MGH Gordon Center was awarded the Science Council Session Award at the 2018 AAPM conference.

Dr. Zaman’s work on Distinctive Energy Profile of Water-Soluble, Thiolate-Protected Gold Nanoparticles as Potential Molecular Marker for XFCT Imaging received the Science Council Session Award from the American Association of Physicists in Medicine Conference on July 2018. This prestigious award was given to outstanding scientific abstract on a topic identified by Science Council as being the frontier of Medical Physics. Dr. Zaman collaborated with Dr. Roger Kornberg’s research team for their x-ray based nano-crystals.

Jinsong Ouyang Wins Innovation Discovery Grant


Congratulations to Dr. Jinsong Ouyang of the MGH Gordon Center for winning the 2018 Innovation Discovery Grants from Partners Innovation.
The Innovation Discovery Grants program aims to stimulate inventive concepts and accelerate commercialization of Partners HealthCare intellectual assets.

Dr. Jinsong Ouyang

Carmela Nappi Wins SNMMI Young Investigator Award


Dr. Nappi with her award

Congratulations to Dr. Carmela Nappi for her Young Investigator Award. Dr. Nappi presented her work at the Cardiovascular Council Young Investigator Award Symposium at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) 2018 Annual meeting in Philadelphia, and won the second place.

Her study highlights the role of 18F-FDG PET-MR imaging in the early detection of cardiac involvement in AFD patients allowing to identify different stages of disease progression. Myocardial inflammation with pseudo-normalization of abnormal T1 mapping values, associated with abnormal COV values, may represent an intermediate stage before the development of myocardial fibrosis.

MR and FDG-PET images on short-axis veiw of a patient with AFD. (A) high T1 values and (B) abnormal COV in the mid-lateral wall of the left ventricle

Georges El Fakhri Elected SNMMI Fellow

Dr. Georges El Fakhri was elected Fellow to the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging during a special plenary session at the society’s 2018 Annual Meeting, held June 23-26 in Philadelphia for his contributions to quantitative PET/CT/MR imaging.

The SNMMI Fellowship was established in 2016 to recognize distinguished service to the society as well as exceptional achievement in the field of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging. It is one of the most prestigious formal recognitions available to long-time SNMMI members.

Dr. El Fakhri is the Nathaniel and Diana Alpert Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School and the founding Director of the Gordon Center for Medical Imaging at MGH. The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) is an international scientific and medical organization with more than 16,000 members dedicated to raising public awareness about nuclear medicine and molecular imaging through journals and meetings and leading advocacy on key issues that affect molecular imaging and therapy research.

SNMMI Fellows

Gordon Lecture: Nanoparticles in Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Dr. Alexandre Detappe is Instructor in Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Detapp was the guest speaker at a lecture organized by the MGH Gordon Center. Below is his presentation summary.

Dr. Alexandre Detappe delivering his presentation at the MGH Gordon Center

Ultrasmall nanoparticles, and more specifically silica-based gadolinium nanoparticles (SiGdNP) demonstrated their ability to act as multimodal imaging agent (PET, MRI, CT) and therapeutic agents. These nanoparticles have been originally designed to act as MRI contrast agents and radiation therapy boosters. Validated preclinically in a wide selection of animal models, SiGdNP have demonstrated to be safe, non-toxic, and highly efficient radiosensitizers. These nanoparticles are currently being tested in a Phase II clinical trial to treat brain metastases. In addition, their imaging ability makes them efficient imaging biomarkers.

Dr. Detappe has focused his efforts on developing a novel imaging biomarker for early detection of Multiple Myeloma - a blood cancer - for which it was demonstrated that an early diagnostic could significantly improve the therapeutic outcomes of the patients’ treatments. In this optic, SiGdNPs were conjugated with monoclonal antibodies to improve their specificity and avoid unwanted accumulation. However, for some patients for whom the disease already degraded their kidneys, inorganic MRI contrast agents cannot be used.

To address this challenge, Dr. Detappe and his colleagues developed a novel metal-free MRI contrast agent that offers the same quality of information than usually observed. The design of this novel polymer also allowed the easy conjugation to a large selection of drugs, in order to decrease the usually observed side effects that arise when using free drugs. As a result, we developed a novel targeted platform for multimodal imaging that can also be used as therapeutic.


Refining Models of Amyloid Accumulation in Alzheimer’s Disease


Changes in MMSE and PET uptake over time

A new study published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia, the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, proposes to stage amyloid PET images using regional information. The research was conducted by Dr. Bernard Hanseeuw, instructor at MGH Gordon Center, and Dr. Keith Johnson, leader of the Aging NeuroImaging Program at the MGH Gordon Center, and the Harvard Aging Brain Study.

Using longitudinal amyloid PET imaging data collected over three years in more than 1,400 participants including clinically normal (CN) older adults and patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s dementia (AD), the authors provided in-vivo evidence that amyloid deposits first in neocortex and then in striatum, a subcortical brain structure. This progressive regional involvement from neocortex to striatum had been suspected for long from autopsy data (referred to in the literature as “Thal phases”), but it had never been demonstrated in living humans.

The results of the study showed that regional expansion of amyloid pathology in striatum was predictive of subsequent cognitive decline and progression to Alzheimer’s dementia. Participants with striatal amyloid declined faster than those who only had cortical amyloid. Higher levels of striatal amyloid were also associated with higher levels of tau pathology and hippocampal atrophy, confirming that striatal amyloid was indicative of disease progression.

Amyloid-PET is commonly expressed as a binary measure of cortical deposition (low/high). However, not all individuals with high-cortical amyloid experience rapid cognitive decline.
Using a three-stage PET classification (low cortex/high cortex, low striatum/high striatum) allow a better identification of the most at-risk individuals. Such a staging system could also help preventive trials for selecting normal participants based on their risk of developing the disease in the following years.

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