Changes in specific brain cell structure and function are major hallmarks in brain development, plasticity and aging, and in pathological processes such as neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation. An accurate and quantitative method to disentangle cellular structural features is currently a major focus of research.
Diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) are now part of the rich arsenal of MRI techniques available in research and in the clinic. The centrality of DWI and DTI has been made possible thanks to the involvement of the scientific community across many disciplines, from engineers to neuroscientists, from biologists to physicists. DTI is a powerful technique to study brain microstructure, however the signal originates from ubiquitous water molecules, thus limiting its specificity. Diffusion-weighted MR spectroscopy (DW-MRS) gives access to diffusion properties of endogenous intracellular brain metabolites that are preferentially located inside specific brain cell populations.
Despite its evident usefulness, DW-MRS remains a challenging technique on all levels: from data acquisition to the analysis, quantification, modeling and interpretation of results. In addition, the availability of DW-MRS to the MR community at large is severely limited by the lack of sequences on any of the commercially available MR scanners.
This workshop is a first step towards breaking the boundaries between the current group of DW-MRS developers and the wider scientific community, by making DW-MRS more accessible to the MR research community at large.
The aims of the workshop are:
(1) Launch a user-friendly open-source platform that will be used to process, analyze, and model experimental data acquired at different sites/vendor scanners/magnetic fields.
(2) Initiate a data repository attached to the open-platform to widen the accessibility of DW-MRS data. It will also contain a description of acquisition protocols, and contact of researchers working in the field.
Write a ‘consensus paper’ summarizing practical principles of DW-MRS and providing protocol recommendations for different users’ goals, with a description of the novel open-source platform
For the preliminary program please see 'Workshop Files'