Focusing on the use of high field MR imaging and spectroscopy to evaluate the efficacy of cellular therapy, the proposed effort would investigate the use of expanded and pre-conditioned adult human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) from bone marrow and adipose tissue sources as a novel ischemic stroke treatment. Postdoctoral fellows would learn to evaluate hMSC homing and stroke recovery with non-invasive MRI and MR spectroscopy approaches in pre-clinical animal models as a means of determining the efficacy of different pre-conditioned steps of in hMSC culture. Hypoxia and aggregation of hMSC in vitro have shown greater viability and increased proliferation, and use of these pre-treated cells should increase their therapeutic effect once transplanted in the stroked brain. High field MRI will be used to provide the sensitivity and specificity to track implanted cells over time while permitting for the acquisition of sodium images and relaxation-enhanced localized spectroscopy of metabolites to detect early markers for stroke recovery. The ideal postdoctoral fellow would have experience with MR physics and acquisition, be interested in learning novel MR techniques applied to neurodegeneration, be willing to collaborate with an international group of researchers, and contribute to the translation of finding to clinical implementation and other neurological diseases. A particular focus will be on the evaluation of glutamate via MR spectroscopy and chemical exchange saturation transfer MR imaging as metrics of recovery as well as a target for therapy. Applications of these techniques to other acute and chronic neurodegenerative processes will be evaluated. These efforts will be supported by a recently funded NIH R01 grant awarded in August 2017.
Postdoctoral fellows will have access to one-of-a-kind NHMAL facilities, including the 900-MHz, 21.1-T magnet and 36-T Series Connect Hybrid for MRI. Fellows will collaborate with an international cadre of MR experts and NHMFL users. To foster career development, fellows will be mentored in grant writing as well as lab management.