Funding from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to study neural plasticity in Spinal Cord Injury

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation has awarded Dr. Molly Bright a SCIRTS Pilot Grant to use imaging to characterize neurovascular plasticity in spinal cord injury. Working with Dr. Milap Sandhu, PT PhD at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, we will employ fMRI and cerebrovascular imaging techniques to characterize how one session of Acute Intermittent Hypoxia impacts brain and spinal cord physiology. Acute Intermittent Hypoxia is an emerging intervention that transiently improves motor function in individuals with spinal cord injury; although large clinical trials are getting underway, we aim to better understand the mechanisms for these functional improvements in order to optimize or tailor the intervention. This study will span two years, and recruitment is soon beginning for individuals with incomplete cervical spinal cord injury as well as uninjured control participants. Mark Hoggarth, DPT (left) will be joining the lab later this fall to take the lead on spinal cord imaging and analyses. Welcome Mark, and stay tuned for details on how to get involved with the study!

Welcome Jasmine Vu, Apoorva Ayyagari to the lab!

ANVIL welcomes two new students in Biomedical Engineering:

Jasmine Vu is an incoming PhD student, having completed her Bachelors degree in Bioengineering at the University of Washington with a concentration in Diagnostics and Therapeutic Instruments. She was an active member of Bioengineers Without Borders, sparking her interest in clinical translation of new technologies, and has extensive research experience in optical coherence tomography through her work in the UW Biophotonics and Imaging Lab under Dr. Ruikang Wang. Jasmine will be co-supervised by Prof. Bright and Prof. Rad, developing fMRI as a tool for studying brain function after deep brain stimulation (DBS) implantation. Her research will radically enhance our understanding and optimization of DBS for treating Parkinsons Disease.

Apoorva Ayyagari is a new Masters student in the lab, joining us from Oregon State University where she recently completed her Bachelors degree in Bioengineering. She has contributed to research in the Social Mobility Lab there, analyzing the movement patterns of young children with and without developmental disabilities. Here at Northwestern, Apoorva will be using MRI techniques to study oxygen dynamics in the human spinal cord, and how this is affected in spinal cord injury.

We are excited to have these two exceptional individuals join the team!

Welcome Kristina Zvolanek to the lab!

ANVIL welcomes Kristina Zvolanek, a new PhD student in Biomedical Engineering. Kristina joins us from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, where she earned her B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering and already accomplished a first-author paper in Medical Physics. As an undergraduate, she worked with Dr. Greg Bashford in the Biomedical Imaging and Biosignal Analysis lab, where she used Transcranial Doppler ultrasonography to measure cerebral blood flow patterns in children. At Northwestern, she will continue to pursue her interests in pediatric imaging and rehabilitation, adapting and applying functional and physiological MRI techniques to study neurovascular properties of the brain in pediatric-onset hemiplegia. She’s already familiar with Chicago and Northwestern, having previously done a summer research project with Dr. Sabrina Lee in the Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab, and has gotten a jump-start on her graduate research in our lab prior to the start of classes in September. We are extremely excited to have Kristina on the team, and look forward to working with her in this exciting area of pediatric and rehabilitative neuroimaging!