Blog | Early Career Research Fund 2022

By Cesc Bertran-Cobo
ISMRM diffusion workshop

The LSHTM Malaria Centre awarded me with an ECR grant to attend the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Workshop 2022, which took place in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) from the 10th to the 14th of October. As a member of the Wassmer lab, I study the pathogenesis of cerebral malaria in paediatric and adult populations. Attending the ISMRM Diffusion MRI Workshop 2022 allowed me to complement the resources available on malaria research at LSHTM with in-depth training and education on MRI.

MRI is a non-invasive and safe diagnostic tool, which can help us discover reliable, quantitative biomarkers of cerebral malaria diagnosis and prognosis, which are currently absent. The Diffusion MRI Workshop kick-started with a one-day bootcamp to set the basis of this field of research, and quickly progressed into discussing cutting-edge topics such as the importance of quantitative, reproducible and generalisable markers for clinical translation, how diffusion MRI is being used in the clinic and where there are clinical needs not yet met, as well as hardware advances, artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data.

At a personal level, it was amazing to discuss with world-leading MRI experts the possibility to image cerebral malaria patients in resource-limited settings with portable MRI scanners such as Hyperfine, which has been tested in Malawi and South Africa. The Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), in the UK, is leading a Gates-founded project that aims to deploy portable MRI scanners to different territories in southern Africa. Setting a neuroimaging platform across territories with high (cerebral) malaria prevalence would be advantageous to the Wassmer lab and the LSHTM.

Considering the positive impact the Diffusion MRI Workshop has had on my performance as a researcher in the Wassmer lab, I would like to thank the Malaria Centre for their continued support and for giving me this opportunity.

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