Student: Jonathan Percy, Undergraduate Student in Applied Physics Emphasis in Computer Science/Pre-Medicine, University of Iowa
Research Mentor: David Miles and Sean Fain
Hyper polarized Noble Gas Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Medical imaging plays a crucial role in chronic lung diseases for establishing diagnosis, determining severity, and monitoring progression. This research project, led by Dr. Sean Fain, explores hyperpolarized (HP) noble gases in magnetic resonance (MR) imaging for clinical applications and benefits when combined with other imaging techniques such as computed tomography (CT). In an ongoing study of survivors of acute COVID-19 infection who suffer from persistent fatigue and dyspnea (so-called “Long Covid”), we are using ^129Xe MR imaging and quantitative chest CT imaging to characterize ventilation, gas exchange, and perfusion. Through this project, novel imaging will improve understanding of pulmonary structure and functional changes associated with prolonged symptoms of fatigue and dyspnea in patients with Long COVID. Furthermore, HP gas MR imaging has benefits more generally for other chronic obstructive and restrictive pulmonary diseases such as cystic fibrosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. In more exploratory research, the use of HP gases in MR imaging combined with established functional lung MRI can potentially serve to mitigate the need for CT. Novel fast methods for MR imaging, such as ultrashort echo time (UTE) MR imaging scans, can provide CT-like contrast and spatial resolution with MRI. We have collected from these ongoing studies a large data set of chest UTE MR images to work with in hopes of creating an artificial intelligence lung segmentation and analysis tool for detecting anatomic features of lung disease conventionally detected on chest CT.