• Pugash, Denise


    Investigator, BC Children's Hospital
    Clinical Professor, Department of Radiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia

    Degrees / Designations
    BSc, MD, CM, FRCP(C)
    Primary Area of Research
    Healthy Starts
    Secondary Area(s) of Research
    604-875-2424 ext. 6784
    Lab Phone
    Valerie Alley
    Assistant Phone
    Mailing Address

    BC Children's Hospital
    Department of Radiology
    4500 Oak St.  Vancouver, BC  V6H 3V4

    Affiliate Websites
    Research Areas
    • Fetal brain development
    • Fetal MRI
    • Prenatal ultrasound
    • Prenatal diagnosis
    • Perinatal imaging

    The fetal brain is unique among fetal organs in that it undergoes profound changes throughout pregnancy, some of which are transient in that they appear and disappear as the brain matures.

    With ultrasound and fetal MRI, we have a unique opportunity to look at the fetal brain while it is developing.  I use special techniques with ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging to look at the fetal brain at different stages of pregnancy. Our technique is a new way to assess brain tissue which allows us to evaluate milestones in normal development.

    Understanding the imaging appearance of the normal brain is critical in recognizing abnormal development, whether due to a malformation, genetic defect, an infection in pregnancy, bleeding in the brain, or other signs of brain damage.  My research focuses on identifying fetuses at risk for prenatal brain damage, with the goal of understanding why it happens and what we can do to prevent it.

    Current Projects

    1. Postmortem MRI (3 Tesla at the CFRIF Research Facility) and ultrasound imaging.  We are developing strategies to look at different aspects of fetal development, and in particular, brain maturation including myelination. Comparison with antenatal MRI and ultrasound, as well as autopsy information, is being performed.

    2.  Shear wave absolute vibro-elastography of the placenta. The objectives of this study are to define SWAVE characteristics in the normal placenta. SWAVE is a potentially valuable new tool to explore placental function and health in both the clinical and research settings.

    3. Quantitative ultrasound for detecting abnormalities of the placenta: Measuring the stiffness of the placenta to help diagnose fetal growth restriction.

    4. Open MRI in standing pregnant women to assess anatomy of the cervix and perineum.

    Selected Publications

    National Guidelines for Canada; Journal article: “The use of magnetic resonance imaging in the obstetric patient.” Y Patenaude, D Pugash, K Lim, L Morin; J Obstet Gynaecol Can 2014;36(4):349–355.

    Pugash D, Hendson G,  Dunham CP, Dewar K, Money, DM. Prayer D: “Sonographic assessment of normal and abnormal patterns of fetal cerebral lamination”  Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol 2012; 40: 642–651 doi.org/10.1002/uog.11164.

    D Pugash: “Fetal MRI of Normal Brain Development” in “Fetal MRI (Medical Radiology/Diagnostic Imaging)”, Daniela Prayer, Ed.; Springer; publication release date March 29, 2011; ISBN: 978-3-540-73270-9.

    Patenaude Y, Pugash D, Lim K, Morin L. Utilisation de l'imagerie par résonance magnétique en obstétrique. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2016 Dec. PMID:28063554 

    Canadian Foundation for Innovation - PI: PRIME Research Facility at BC Women's Hospital and Health Centre, 2015

    CHRP; Coinvestigator, 2016

    VCHRI Innovation and Translational Research Award, Coinvestigator, 2016

    Nelly Auersperg Award, PI, 2014
    Honours & Awards
    Research Group Members