Advanced Outcomes: MRI Biomarker

Project lead: PD Dr. Patrick Freund

The focus of previous and current research projects is to better understand how the anatomy and the function
of the spinal cord and the brain change in neurological disorders involving the spinal cord. The main goal is to
develop neuroimaging biomarkers that are sensitive and accurate in predicting functional outcome in order to
register more quickly the impact of therapeutic treatments and rehabilitative interventions. The development and
application of high-resolution MR sequences and post-processing imaging pipelines are therefore a major area
of our research. Other areas of interest are to explore the mechanisms underlying cortical and spinal plasticity
during learning.

Experimental findings from basic research often fail to translate into patients benefit although the principal underlying
mechanisms of spinal cord damage and regeneration/repair are rather similar between animal models and humans.
We aim to facilitate the translation from animal models to humans by conjointly applying the same neuroimaging
protocols in animals and post-mortem human spinal and brain tissue and correlating the latter findings with
histological markers of repair and degeneration.