The mission of CIND is to develop new treatments which slow progression and will ultimately prevent the development of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson's disease, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), gulf war illness, epilepsy, depression, and other conditions associated with nerve loss in the brain. Our focus is brain imaging, especially with MRI including structural MRI, perfusion MRI, diffusion tensor/spectral MRI, susceptibility weighted MRI, MR spectroscopy and MR spectroscopic imaging.
Our scientific approach is twofold:
First, basic scientists in our group including physicists, enginners, computer scientists, statisticians, and computer programers develop new sophisticated imaging techniques including: improvements in MRI acquisition (pulse sequence programming), reconstruction (including use of prior knowledge and Bayesian methods), and post processing (including bias field correction, segmentation, registration, disease specific atlas's).
Second, applications scientists in our Center including physicians and Ph.Ds, as well as collaborating clinical investigators, use advanced MRI techniques to investigate the changes in the brain which occur in neurodegenerative diseases. These changes are compared to control groups of healthy subjects. Furthermore, the changes detected by imaging are correlated with clinical and neuropsychological changes, which are determined by patient examinations in our Center or by referring clinics.
An important focus of our Center is the development of brain imaging techniques with a focus to improve detection and characterization of neurodegenerative diseases. Specifically, techniques are developed to improve signal to noise, contast to noise, spatial resolution, and speed of acquisition, while at the same time reducing image artifacts.
Another focus of our Center concerns brain diseases associated with military service, combat, and which are prevalent in the Veteran population. Our location at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco makes us uniquely suited to serve military veterans in this way.
To accomplish this mission, our faculty seek research grants from the government (including NIH, Department of Defense, and Veterans Affairs), industry, and private foundations.
To our knowledge, our Center is one of the oldest, and largest research groups in the world focusing on MRI of neurodegenerative diseases.