Precision Imaging Beacon
Jian has a background in Artificial Intelligence and is a PhD student in the Precision Imaging Beacon. His current research project is on brain perfusion signatures to detect disease progression.
How would you explain your research?
Perfusion is a potentially sensitive physiological marker of brain tissue health, showing alterations during the early stages of many neurological diseases, either due to the disease pathology itself or in response to the pathology. We are now able to rapidly, reproducibly and repeatedly image brain perfusion using Arterial Spin Labelling MRI and thus map perfusion in the brain and associated changes in disease. The next challenge is to identify the subtle patterns of perfusion change that would allow early identification of disease, monitor rate of progression and inform treatment.
Why Nottingham and why the Precision Imaging Beacon?
As the birthplace of MRI, Nottingham offers world-leading facilities and outstanding research capability and expertise in this field. In the Precision Imaging Beacon, many projects are lead by multidisciplinary teams combining biomedicine, neuroimaging and computer vision techniques. My feelings as well expressed by Sir Isaac Newton's reflection :“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Nottingham presents great research opportunities and potential for implementation in practice.
What inspired you to pursue this area?
Several years ago, one of my family members was diagnosed with lung cancer. Fortunately, the tumour was early stage but treatment was still difficult to bear. This made me think of what I could do to help my family and other people afflicted by terrible diseases. Finally, neuroimaging was my answer, as in this area, I can find ways to assist doctors diagnose and monitor disease progression.
The next challenge is to identify the subtle patterns of perfusion change that would allow early identification of disease, subsequent progression and rate of progression and also where treatment is effecting changes in the course of the disease.
How will your research affect the average person?
My research aims to identify brain perfusion signatures to monitor disease progression. We aim to build clinically usable predictive models and software to detect subtle patterns of change associated with brain diseases, which can assist doctors with early stage diagnosis.
What’s been the greatest moment of your career so far?
During my MSc, I worked on the segmentation of medical images of brain tumours by using Machine Learning and Deep Learning techniques. This was a great moment for me, I enjoyed reading papers and coding to improve the accuracy of the model. It felt good to independently develop ways to achieve a goal. It was also my first time working in a research environment.
How will being based at UoN and joining Precision Imaging help you achieve your goals?
The Precision Imaging Beacon has advanced facilities and large data sets which support my research. Furthermore, my supervisor and other academics at the Beacon are experts in multidisciplinary areas, such as neuroimaging, computer vision and biomedicine, and I will benefit from their guidance to successfully complete my PhD programme.
What aspects of your research and role are you looking forward to?
I seek to develop methods for the identification of perfusion signatures from arterial spin labelling brain images in dementia. I will explore how advanced machine learning and deep learning methods might provide the sensitivity needed to detect subtle patterns of change and associations of these patterns with dementia sub-types and stages. I look forward to a build clinically useable predictive models of perfusion expression.