The cross-cutting theme of imaging has an important integrating role across the CRE programme, with physicists and bioengineers working alongside biomedical researchers.

There are two main areas of work:

Clinical imaging research

Oxford-developed shMOLLI method provides improved contrast in the heart without needing injectable contrast agents (LGE). Images above from acute STEMI. Courtesy of Dr E. Dall’Armellina.

Imaging is central in our clinical research, and mostly focused on cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR), in the Oxford Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research (OCMR) and the Acute Vascular Imaging Centre (AVIC). The scope of clinical research priorities is broad, including ischaemic heart disease, non-ischaemic cardiomyopathies, heart failure, valvular, aortic and congenital heart diseases. The University offers world-class MRI equipment such as an ultra-high magnetic field 7 Tesla system and Europe’s first clinical grade hyperpolariser for human cardiac imaging. Cutting-edge MR techniques are constantly pioneered and developed to comprehensively characterise the human heart, including MR Spectroscopy (31P MRS) to examine cardiac metabolism and energetics; T1-mapping for the non-invasive pixel-wise quantification of myocardial tissue characteristics; 4-dimensional flow to study flow pattern dynamics within cardiac chambers and vessels; and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) for describing myocardial fibre disarray in genetic conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. We also lead on large-scale clinical trials, and massive population-based studies such as the UK Biobank cardiovascular imaging enhancements. In the Clinical Cardiovascular Research Facility, we also apply the latest clinical echocardiography methods to our research. Clinical imaging research at Oxford is multifaceted and strives towards translating research into improved patient care and human quality of life.

3D reconstruction of cardiac fibres in a healthy rat heart from MRI data, which were sensitised to the microscopic diffusion of water. The axes of greatest diffusion generally correspond to the dominant orientation of myocardial tissue, which can be connected in contiguous tracts using streamline tractography methods. Data from Dr I. Teh.

Experimental imaging research

Experimental Imaging comprises a number of different modalities such as microscopy, echocardiography, micro-computed tomography (µCT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy (MRI & MRS). The Wolfson Imaging Centre contains a diverse range of wide-field and confocal microscopes suitable for imaging specimens ranging in complexity from single cells to small laboratory animals. This is complimented by high-speed/high-resolution imaging using temporal pixel multiplexing to capture cellular structure and processes (for example such as calcium transients) at the same time. 2D and 3D echocardiography allows for a rapid and reliable characterization of cardiac function in genetically and surgically manipulated mouse models. MRI and MRS are the most sophisticated phenotyping techniques, which non-invasively provide insights into anatomy, function, structure and metabolism of hearts in rodent models of cardiovascular disease. Technical developments and applications of this technique take place at The BHF Experimental MR Unit and at DPAG.

PI’s involved in this research theme:

Aortic blood flow patterns quantified using 7 Tesla cardiovascular MRI. Data courtesy of Dr A. Hess.

Prof Stefan Neubauer – (Theme Leader)

Dr Gil Bub

Prof Barbara Casadei

Prof Robin Choudhury

Prof Kieran Clarke

Dr Erica Dall’Armellina

Dr Matt Daniels

Prof Christian Eggeling

Prof Paul Leeson

Dr Craig Lygate

Dr Saul Myerson

Prof David Paterson

Dr Matthew Robson

Dr Christopher Rodgers

Dr Juergen Schneider

Dr Pavel Swietach

Dr Damian Tyler

Prof Richard Vaughan-Jones

Prof Manuela Zaccolo