We are interested in using non-invasive imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging, in order to help scientists and clinicians better understand brain health and disease, and how to treat an unhealthy brain. MRIs are incredibly useful for these purposes as, unlike an X-ray or a CT scan, they do not give off any harmful radiation, so people can be scanned multiple times, including babies and pregnant mothers. Additionally, MRIs are magnificently diverse in what information they can provide, including high resolution anatomical information, the activity of the brain, specific chemicals or metabolites and their concentrations, and more. When these scans are combined, they can often give us more information together than the sum of their parts.
The Weber Lab is interested in improving these techniques, exploring how they can be combined in novel ways, and ultimately, in seeing how they can be used to tell us something new about the brain that we did not know before. It is in doing so that I hope to help treat various insults, injuries and diseases of the brain in order to help people lead better lives, or in the case of infants, setting them up on the right track.
Dr. Alexander Mark Weber is an Assistant Professor at UBC in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neurology, and an Independent Investigator at BC Children's Hospital with the Brain, Behaviour & Development Theme. His research interests focus on developing specific and sensitive quantitative biomarkers of anatomical, functional and metabolic characteristics of brain health in newborns and children.
Novel neuroimaging applications may further elucidate the underlying pathological mechanisms associated with neonatal encephalopathy, Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), seizures, intercranial hemorrhage, or ischemic stroke. Early recognition and classification combined with brain interventions are key in the prevention or reduction of progressive and chronic lifelong disabilities such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and behavioural and learning disorders. Currently, objective neuroimaging markers of treatment responses are urgently needed to accelerate clinical trials and focus our search for effective treatments.