Dr Michael Stringer

Research Fellow, Medical Physicist

  • Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences
  • Edinburgh Imaging
  • Edinburgh Neuroscience

Contact details

Address

Street

University of Edinburgh, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences
Chancellor's Building, 49 Little France Crescent,

City
Edinburgh
Post code
EH16 4SB

Background

I am a research fellow in magnetic resonance imaging and image analysis at the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh working with Prof Joanna Wardlaw and Dr Michael Thrippleton. My current work focuses on improving the accuracy and sensitivity of in vivo measurements of vascular dysfunction, and applying them across several studies on patients with stroke and small vessel disease. Originally from a mathematics background (BSc (Hons) Glasgow, MSc Heriot-Watt), I previously completed a PhD in medical imaging at the University of Aberdeen in 2016.

Qualifications

PhD in Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen

MSc in Applied Mathematical Sciences, Heriot-Watt University

BSc(Hons) in Pure Mathematics, University of Glasgow

Responsibilities & affiliations

Committees

UK Dementia Research Institute, Early Career Researcher day planning committee for Connectome (annual internal meeting)

UK Dementia Research Institute, Vascular theme committee

Edinburgh Imaging, MR Safety committee

Memberships

International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (Member)

Institute for Physics and Engineering in Medicine (Member)

Higher Education Academy (Associate Fellow)  

Undergraduate teaching

I have previously demonstrated for labs in Biology and Exercise Physiology while pursuing my PhD at the University of Aberdeen.

Postgraduate teaching

I currently tutor for the Applications in Disease Research and Clinical Applications modules for the Edinburgh Imaging MSc programme and Neuroimaging Research for Neuroscience Graduates, part of the Integrative Neuroscience and Stem Cells and Translational Neurology Masters programme.

Current PhD students supervised

I am a supervisor for two new PhD students due to start in September 2023.

Past PhD students supervised

I was a co-supervisor for Emily Sleight on the project "Advanced signal processing and MRI to assess cerebrovascular health in small vessel disease and dementia" which aimed to implement and assess novel approaches for calculating cerebrovascular reactivity using MRI.

https://www.ed.ac.uk/profile/emily-sleight

Research summary

Developing and using quantitative MRI methods to assess haemodynamic and metabolic properties in patients is my main research focus. Embedded within a clinical group I have played a leading role in several multicentre imaging studies (e.g. H2020 funded SVDs@Target, Leducq Network for Research Excellence on perivascular spaces), including clinical trials (LACI-1 and Treat-SVDs), cross-sectional (Sleep Apnea and Investigate-SVDs) and longitudinal studies (Mild Stroke Study 3). 

My research covers three main strands:

 

  • Methodological development: Cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR) is an important haemodynamic measure of how well blood vessels open and close, particularly in diseases such as small vessel disease (SVD) which causes many cases of stroke and dementia. Using blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) MRI it is possible to measure CVR in the brain. However, there are several technical challenges to developing more accurate measurements. In a recent systematic review, we highlighted the heterogeneity in acquisition and analysis methods used to date, and that there was a need for greater validation. Following this, we conducted a healthy volunteer study where we found processing CVR using region- and voxel- based measures of CVR influenced the resulting values, while in poorer quality data the delay, a measure of how long the blood vessels take to respond, depended on the allowed range of values. Currently, I am working to develop this findings further with a new PhD student starting in September focused on developing improved measures of delay and two Masters students who will work to quantify the effect of venous contamination on tissue-based CVR values and assess partial volume correction strategies. Beyond my interests in CVR methodology, I have also been involved with work assessing methods of blood-brain barrier permeability using both dynamic-contrast enhanced MRI and arterial spin labelling based methods developed by collaborators at the University of Southern California in a pilot study, as well as phase contrast based measures of blood and CSF pulsatility.

 

  • Clinical studies in stroke and small vessel disease: I have worked across several multicentre international studies. As a member of the SVDs@Target collaboration, I trained and advised other sites on setting up CVR experiments locally, led imaging quality assurance, managed imaging data transfer, calculated CVR (>450 scans) for Investigate-SVDs and the Treat-SVDs clinical trial (primary outcome measure), for which I also developed a computational method to extract and harmonise summary blood pressure measures (secondary outcome). Through the Leducq network on perivascular spaces, a key indicator of SVD, I worked closely with collaborators at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre to establish a harmonised imaging protocol for studies on SVD and sleep apnoea, was heavily involved with data acquisition and the establishment of image processing pipelines, some of which were handed over to students I supervised and which have since been used across several publications. Through these studies, we hope to learn more about what causes SVD and the resultant brain damage, which often leads to strokes, which may ultimately help develop novel treatments. Indeed, through the LACI-1 and Treat-SVDs trials we have shown the potential of imaging based biomarkers to assess the efficacy of different pharmaceutical agents in vivo.

 

  • Improving translational imaging: Through the Leducq network, I led a multicentre systematic literature review aiming to assess how rodent and clinical imaging protocols are implemented in SVD which made several recommendations to improve translation. In particular, it indicated the importance of harmonising the scans acquired in clinical and preclinical studies where possible, and the need to develop clinically viable approaches to assess brain waste clearance. Building on these links, I was able to visit collaborators at Yale and the University of Southern California with funding from SINAPSE to learn more about advanced preclinical imaging approaches and developed an independent Leducq-funded pilot project assessing novel blood-brain barrier leakage markers with parallel preclinical histological validation which is currently on-going. I was also a co-investigator on a British Heart Foundation-funded project using MRI to help characterise a novel rat model of SVD (Atp11-Beta), developed by Prof Anna Williams and her group.

 

View all 31 publications on Research Explorer