• Rauscher, Alexander

    Investigator, BC Children's Hospital

    Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, UBC

    Degrees / Designations
    Primary Area of Research
    Brain, Behaviour & Development
    Secondary Area(s) of Research
    Lab Phone
    Mailing Address

    BC Children's Hospital
    Room 2D19
    4480 Oak Street
    Vancouver, BC  V6H 3V4

    Affiliate Websites
    Research Areas
    • Magnetic resonance imaging
    • Brain injury 
    • Myelination 
    • Developmental neuroimaging 
    • Neuroimaging techniques
    • MRI of anisotropic biological tissues 
    • Fetal MRI 

    I use MRI scanners to image the human brain. Since these scanners don't use radiation like CT scanners or X-ray machines, we can scan people – even babies – multiple times. My main research focus is to develop and use new methods to get sharper images and detailed maps of the brain.

    I use these techniques for the diagnosis and investigation of concussion, for instance. We have scanned young ice hockey players before and after concussion and we were able to measure the changes in their brains due to concussion.

    We also investigate what happens to the MRI signal when the myelin in the brain is damaged. Myelin is the insulator around the nerve fibres. Damage to the myelin due to injury or disease leads to impairment of the brain and has serious consequences for patients. We develop MRI methods for the measurement of myelin damage and repair. These methods allow earlier and better diagnoses of diseases and help medical doctors to initiate the right treatment as early as possible.

    Current Projects

    Concussion in young ice hockey players: The best way to study brain injury is to obtain data before and after injury for direct comparison. In humans, this can be done by following people who have a high risk of sustaining a brain injury. We worked with ice hockey players and scanned their brains at the beginning and at the end of the hockey season. The  concussed athletes were scanned at three days, two weeks and two months after concussion.

    Magnetic Resonance Frequency Imaging of the Human Brain: The MRI signal can be compared to a lighthouse. At any given time, the lighthouse beam has a brightness and a direction. Conventional MRI deals mainly with the brightness of the signal and ignores the direction. We have shown that this direction information, which is related to the frequency of the signal, contains valuable information on structure and composition of biological tissues. My team and I use this frequency imaging approach for the characterization of changes in the brain at high resolution and with high sensitivity.

    Selected Publications
    1. Vavasour IM, Meyers SM, Macmillan EL, Mädler B, Li DK, Rauscher A, Vertinsky T, Venu V, Mackay AL, Curt A. Increased spinal cord movements in cervical spondylotic myelopathy. The Spine Journal, 2014.
    2. Traboulsee AL, Knox KB, Machan L, Zhao Y, Yee I, Rauscher A, Klass D, Szkup P, Otani R, Kopriva D, Lala S, Li DK, Sadovnick D. Prevalence of extracranial venous narrowing on catheter venography is similar in people with MS, their siblings, and unrelated healthy controls: a blinded, case-control study. The Lancet, 2014, 383(9912):138-45.  Citations = 8
    3. Lange RT, Shewchuk JR, Heran MK, Rauscher A, Jarrett M, Brubacher JR, Iverson GL. To exclude or not to exclude: Further examination of the influence of white matter hyperintensities in diffusion tensor imaging research. Journal of Neurotrauma, 2013, 31(2):198-205. 
    4. Wiggermann V, Hernández Torres E, Vavasour IM, Moore GR, Laule C, MacKay AL, Li DK, Traboulsee A, Rauscher A. Magnetic resonance frequency shifts during acute MS lesion formation. Neurology. 2013, 81(3):211-8.  
    5. Borich MR, Mackay AL, Vavasour IM, Rauscher A, Boyd LA. Evaluation of white matter myelin water fraction in chronic stroke. Neuroimage:Clinical. 2013, Vol 2:569-580.  
    6. Koerte IK, Kaufmann D, Hartl E, Bouix S, Pasternak O, Kubicki M, Rauscher A, Li DK, Dadachanji SB, Taunton JA, Forwell LA, Johnson, AM, Echlin PS, Shenton ME. A prospective study of physician-observed concussion during a varsity university hockey season: white matter integrity in ice hockey players. Neurosurg Focus. 2012, 33(6): E3:1-7.  
    7. Prasloski T, Rauscher A, Mackay AL, Hodgson M, Vavasour IM, Laule C, and Mädler B. Rapid whole cerebrum myelin water imaging using a 3D GRASE sequence. Neuroimage. 2012, 63(1):533 9.  
    8. McPhee K, Denk C, Al-Rekabi Z, Rauscher A. Bilateral Filtering of Magnetic Resonance Phase Images. Magn Reson Imaging. 2011; 29(7): 1023-9.  Citations = 5
    9. Denk C, Hernandez E, MacKay A, Rauscher A. The influence of cerebral white matter fibre orientation on gradient echo phase and signal decay. NMR in Biomedicine. 2011, 24(3):246-52. Citations = 38 
    10. Denk C and Rauscher A.  Susceptibility Weighted Imaging (SWI) with Multiple Echoes. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2010, 31:185-91   

    NSERC Discovery Grant, Parkinson Foundation Pilot Grant, Milan and Maureen Ilich Foundation

    Honours & Awards
    • CIHR New Investigator Award
    • London Drugs Award for Research Excellence in Radiology
    • Toshiba Award 
    Research Group Members
    • Robert Baumeister
    • Evan Chen
    • Enedino Hernández-Torres
    • Michael Jarrett
    • Vanessa Wiggermann