Invited Talk: “Prematurity in newborns from structural and diffusion MRI”

featuring Dr. Natasha Leporé

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

University of Southern California

hosted by Yalin Wang

Friday, February 22nd 2013, 1:20-2:40pm


“Prematurity in newborns from structural and diffusion MRI”

AbstractPremature children are at increased risk of abnormal growth and cognitive development. I will present computational tools to compare brain anatomy from structural and diffusion MRI between premature and term-born newborns, and describe the anatomical findings that we obtain from them.

In particular, I will discuss multivariate tensor based morphometry (mTBM), a method designed to compare changes in anatomy between a patient and control group. We originally developed MTBM on adult brain volumes, and it was extended to adult brain surfaces (subcortical structures and cortex).  MTBM involves a conformal mapping to determine a grid on surfaces, a fluid registration to match all subjects to a template, and a multivariate statistical analysis on the resulting deformation tensors. We are working to generalize mTBM and extend it to children of all ages. I will describe the method and show our latest results on comparisons of premature and term-born newborns.

Clinical diffusion MR images of newborns have low resolution, and standard methods to determine white matter tracts do not work in this data. I will also introduce a new template based averaging method that allows tractography to be performed using only physicians’ own in-house data, thereby allowing it to be used in clinical settings.


Bio: Dr. Leporé’s work involves the development of numerical tools for the analysis of brain structural and diffusion magnetic resonance imaging data. In particular, these include improvements to tensor-based morphometry, surface and volume registration, segmentation and statistics for group comparisons. She also works on applying these methods to different types of brain imaging data including prematurity, healthy brain development, healthy twins, blindness, deafness, HIV/AIDS, autism and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Leporé is currently an assistant professor in Radiology at the University of Southern California and at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She graduated with a BSc in physics and mathematics from the University of Montreal and then obtained a masters in applied mathematics from Cambridge University, in general relativity. Her PhD is in theoretical physics (Harvard University), and deals with quantum chaos in quantum billiards living on the plane and the pseudo sphere. Afterward, She switched to neuroimaging and became a postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, working with Dr. Paul Thompson.