Faculty of Medical Sciences

Staff Profile

Professor Andrew Blamire

Deputy Dean of Translational Research & Professor of Magnetic Resonance Physics

Background

Role

I am Director of the Centre for In Vivo Imaging (CIVI) which brings together our expertise across a broad range of imaging modalities applied to in vivo biomedical research, including MRI, PET, PET-MRI and fluoresence imaging (http://www.ncl.ac.uk/civi/).  I also lead the MR physics team at the Newcastle MR Centre whose role is to develop new scanning methodology to address hypothesis led research in our clinical populations (www.ncl.ac.uk/magres).

Research Overview

My personal research programmes revolve around developing and applying novel Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Spectroscopy (MRS) methodology as diagnostic and prognostic values and as outcome measures in interventional trials. In addition to leading research programmes in Newcastle I am heavily involved in international projects. (Please see my Research page for more information)

Partnerships
  • Member of the MRC Centre for Neuromuscular Disease
  • Member of the UK Biobank Expert Working Group on Imaging
  • Chair of the Dementias Platform UK Repeat Imaging Working Group
  • Secretary to the British Chapter of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM, www.ismrm.org/british)
  • Part of the MYO-MRI COST action


Research

Research Interests

My personal research programmes revolve around developing and applying novel Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Spectroscopy (MRS) methodology as diagnostic and prognostic values and as outcome measures in interventional trials. 

Neuroimaging - Mild Traumatic Brain Imaging (mTBI)

In previous quantitative studies in mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) we observed significant increases in grey matter T1 relaxation times and increases in white matter fractional anisotropy (FA) using diffusion tensor imaging.  These were were strongly correlated to on-going cognitive dysfunction and to outcome at 12 months post-injury.  We are currently undertaking a second study in mTBI patients to validate these findings in a new patient cohort.  We are combining quantitative imaging methods with functional brain scanning (fMRI) to look more closely at the relationship between structural damage to grey and white matter and brain activity in key cognitive tasks.

Neuroimaging - Dementia and Neurodegenerative Diseases

Recent studies using quantitative relaxation imaging (T1 and T2), diffusion tensor imaging, cerebral blood flow imaging (arterial spin labeling) and metabolic measurements by proton MR spectroscopic imaging have revealed different patterns of neurodegeneration between patients with Alzheimer's disease and Dementia with Lewy Bodies.  Current work, funded by the Newcastle NIHR BRU in Lewy Body Dementia, is applying MRS spectral editing techniques to examine the role of the excitatory neurotransmitter GABA in the symptoms of visual hallucinations which are common in patients with Dementia with Lewy Bodies.

I ran the central imaging analysis for the TIRCON study where advanced MRI methods are being used to evaluate changes in brain iron levels in patients with PKAN in a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of Deferiprone (www.tircon.eu).

Neuroimaging - Development of 7Li MR imaging

In collaboration with Dr David Cousins at Newcastle University (www.teamlithium.co.uk) we are developing optimised methods to image the distribution of 7Li in the brain.  This work has recently become part of the European R-Link programme which is funded through H2020, where we will lead the multi-centre application of 7Li MRI.

Neuromuscular imaging

With funding from the MRC Confidence in Concept scheme, we are developing novel MRI techniques which aim to quantify neuromuscular motor unit activity as a non-invasive alternative to needle based EMG measurements.  We are developing a combination of images in resting muscle and imaging during in-scanner electrical stimulation to define optimum conditions to image motor unit activity.

With funding from the EU Horizon2020 scheme, the VISION-DMD programme we are establishing an imaging protocol for a major international clinical trial of VBP15, an innovative steroid-like intervention for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

I coordinate imaging analysis for quantitative assessment of muscle degeneration (fatty replacement) in a longitudinal, natural history (clinical outcome) study of patients with dysferlinopathy, funded by the JAIN foundation (jain).

I was Coordinator of the BIOIMAGE-NMD programme, an FP7 funded consortium of 6 academic and 3 SME partners across Europe working to develop MRI and PET methodology as outcome measures for clinical trials in patients with neuromuscular diseases (www.bioimage-nmd.eu).

Responsive contrast agents for molecular MRI

With funding from EPSRC I am working with Prof David Parker at Durham University to develop a new range of molecular MR contrast agents which are directly detected by the MR acquisition and are responsive to their environment, providing quantitative readout of physiological parameters such as tissue temperature and pH.  These new agents are based on the paramagnetic shift between a lanthanide ion and a reporter group within the molecule and have been termed PARASHIFT agents.

Other projects include:

  • Studies of cardiac and brain function in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Studies of fatigue and autonomic dysfunction in Sjogren’s Syndrome (Arthritis Research UK funded)

More details can be found at the MR Centre website www.ncl.ac.uk/magres

Teaching

I contribute teaching to the Imaging with Non-Ionising Radiation speciality on the MSc in Clinical Sciences (Medical Physics) course.

Publications