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Nicholas Blockley

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences

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Biography

I received my PhD from the University of Nottingham in 2007 under the supervision of Prof. Penny Gowland and Prof. Sue Francis at the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre (SPMIC). Following a further period of postdoctoral training at SPMIC I moved to the University of California San Diego to work with Prof. Rick Buxton in 2009. On my return to the UK in 2011 I worked at the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaing (WIN formerly FMRIB) where I held a 5 year EPSRC Early Career Fellowship. I moved back to the University of Nottingham in 2018 where I am building a programme of research to investigate human physiology using novel Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) techniques.

Expertise Summary

The focus of my research is the development of new techniques to non-invasively image the function of the brain using MRI. I specialise in the measurement of aspects of brain physiology that are typically difficult to acquire using any other method. For example, most recently I have been developing new technologies for measuring oxygen metabolism in the human brain. Conventionally such measurements are performed using PET (Positron Emission Tomography) resulting in exposure to ionising radiation and long acquisition times. Even more importantly the equipment to perform these PET measurements is poorly available in the UK. In contrast 3T MRI is widely available in the NHS. Currently my team are collaborating with clinical colleagues to demonstrate the potential of these techniques in acute stroke, traumatic brain injury and brain tumours.

Development of these new techniques is dependent on gaining a better understanding of the interaction between brain physiology and the MRI signal. This is achieved by developing sophisticated simulation tools to better understand sources of systematic error. Isolating specific aspects of physiology is achieved by sensitising the MRI signal using custom pulse sequences and tightly controlled respiratory stimuli. In the case of the latter, I have developed novel shaped respiratory stimuli to produce a rapid protocol for measuring vascular reactivity and provide new information about regional variations in blood arrival time.

Research Summary

The focus of my research is the development of new techniques to non-invasively image the function of the brain using MRI. I specialise in the measurement of aspects of brain physiology that are… read more

Selected Publications

Current Research

The focus of my research is the development of new techniques to non-invasively image the function of the brain using MRI. I specialise in the measurement of aspects of brain physiology that are typically difficult to acquire using any other method. For example, most recently I have been developing new technologies for measuring oxygen metabolism in the human brain. Conventionally such measurements are performed using PET (Positron Emission Tomography) resulting in exposure to ionising radiation and long acquisition times. Even more importantly the equipment to perform these PET measurements is poorly available in the UK. In contrast 3T MRI is widely available in the NHS. Currently my team are collaborating with clinical colleagues to demonstrate the potential of these techniques in acute stroke, traumatic brain injury and brain tumours.

Development of these new techniques is dependent on gaining a better understanding of the interaction between brain physiology and the MRI signal. This is achieved by developing sophisticated simulation tools to better understand sources of systematic error. Isolating specific aspects of physiology is achieved by sensitising the MRI signal using custom pulse sequences and tightly controlled respiratory stimuli. In the case of the latter, I have developed novel shaped respiratory stimuli to produce a rapid protocol for measuring vascular reactivity and provide new information about regional variations in blood arrival time.

School of Life Sciences

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham NG7 2UH

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