Multimodal Metabolic Brain Imaging Lab (Li Lab)

The Multimodal Metabolic Brain Imaging Lab (Li Lab) focuses on developing methods for obtaining reliable metabolic information from the brain to characterize spatial and temporal heterogeneity and the biological behavior during disease time for brain tumors, psychiatric and neurologic diseases. This includes the development of new methods for obtaining whole-brain metabolites and tools for generating metrics of brain neurotransmitters using 3T and 7T MR scanners, implementation of statistical methods to relate metabolic metrics to clinical outcomes or measures, and integrating steady-state 1H metabolic imaging with PET, hyperpolarized 13C and advanced MR imaging parameters to elucidate the underlying normal and abnormal biological process.

Multimodal Metabolic Brain Imaging Lab

People

Adam AutryAdam Autry
Specialist
Email: [email protected]

After obtaining his PhD in Bioengineering from the Joint Graduate Program at UC Berkeley/UCSF, under the mentorship of Sarah J Nelson, Dr. Autry joined the Li Lab to continue research characterizing molecular markers of malignant brain tumors. His current work focuses on real-time imaging of in vivo metabolism in adults with infiltrating gliomas using the technique of hyperpolarized carbon-13 (HP-13C) MRI, which probes glycolytic and oxidative phosphorylation pathways by means of injectable tracers whose magnetization has been transiently enhanced via specialized instrumentation. As part of this effort, he has pursued the optimization of HP-13C data acquisition methods involving atlas-based prescription for serial imaging studies, and investigated features of aberrant metabolism in progressive glioma based on the modeling of [1-13C]pyruvate kinetics. 


Maria BaidaMaria Baida
Staff Research Assistant
Email: [email protected]

Maria Baida completed her MS in Biomedical Imaging at UCSF and then joined Dr. Li’s lab. Her current research is focused on processing and analyzing MR data from individuals with ASD to understand.


Marisa LafontaineMarisa Lafontaine
Clinical Research Coordinator
Email: [email protected]

Marisa works on consenting patients, acquiring advanced imaging data for research studies and clinical trials, data transfer, post-processing, and analyzing MR data.Marisa works on consenting patients, acquiring advanced imaging data for research studies and clinical trials, data transfer, post-processing, and analyzing MR data.


Wendy MaWendy Ma
Clinical Research Coordinator
Email: [email protected]

Wendy prepares and organizes documentation and files pertaining to the research projects, consents patients, and coordinates patient scans in Dr. Li’s lab.


Xin Mu
Staff Research Assistant
Email: xin.mu[email protected]

Xin Mu focuses on using multiparametric MRI to study pediatric diseases. 


Sana VaziriSana Vaziri
Post-doctoral Fellow
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Vaziri is interested in developing advanced processing methods for metabolic imaging (proton MR spectroscopy and hyperpolarized carbon-13) and analyzing multimodal imaging data to improve the evaluation of patients with glioma.


Liana Tran
Administrative Contact
Email: [email protected] 

Alumni

  • Huawei Liu, Former post-doctoral fellow: Dr. Liu worked on developing novel methods for acquiring and processing 1-H MR spectroscopy for evaluating patients with neurologic diseases.
  • Artan Kaso, Former Post-doctoral fellow: Dr. Kaso worked on developing novel methods for acquiring 1-H MR spectroscopic imaging at 7T.

Opportunities

Summer Students

We have a student research assistant position available for the summer. In particular, we are looking for a highly motivated person with programming experience to help with data processing.

SRA 1

Staff Research Associate 1

Post-doctoral Fellow

Post-doctoral Fellow Position in Neuro-imaging Research (pdf)

Research Projects 

Multimodal Neuroimaging For Evaluating Astrocytoma

Gliomas are the most common malignant primary brain tumors in adults. Although survival outcomes for lower-grade gliomas improve as diagnosis evolves, these patients eventually undergo resistance to treatment and often experience impaired cognitive function. Our group is interested in characterizing spatial heterogeneity and developing biomarkers of response to therapy and outcomes using a multi-modality MR protocol in order to improve the management of patients with astrocytoma.

HP 13C Metabolic Imaging
Hyperpolarized (HP) Carbon-13 (13C) Metabolic Imaging - a new molecular imaging modality providing information about real-time metabolism

  1. HP [1-13C]pyruvate
  2. HP [2-13C]pyruvate

1H 2-hydroxyglutarte (2HG)-specific MR spectroscopic imaging
1H 2-hydroxyglutarte (2HG)-specific MR spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) – Noninvasive detection of oncometabolite 2-HG 

Multiparametric MRI in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Speech deficits are prevalent in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Our group works on understanding the heterogeneity in speech production in individuals with ASD by evaluating functional brain connectivity and neurotransmitters using a multiparameter MR protocol.

GABA-edited MR Spectroscopy
GABA-edited MR Spectroscopy – Unobstructed and noninvasive measurement of neurotransmitters (glutamate, excitatory; GABA, inhibitory)

Clinical Translation of Metabolic Imaging

Our group has created the workflow for obtaining 3D proton-1 (1H) MR spectroscopic imaging datasets by using an atlas-based automatic prescription, scanner reconstruction, and DICOM output at the research scanners. One of my research interests is translating these tools and results to the broader neuro-oncology community and integrating them into the standard clinical workflow.

workflow for obtaining 3D proton-1 (1H) MR spectroscopic imaging
Our group has created the workflow for obtaining 3D proton-1 (1H) MR spectroscopic imaging datasets by using an atlas-based automatic prescription, scanner reconstruction, and DICOM output at the research scanners. One of my research interests is translating these tools and results to the broader neuro-oncology community and integrating them into the standard clinical workflow.

SKY Breath Intervention For Depressed Adolescents

Clinical Trial ID: NCT05388110

Study Description: Adolescent-onset depression is associated with long, severe, and recurrent episodes that are often not responsive to treatment. There is a dire need to develop novel treatments that are efficient, cost-effective, and tolerant for this population. Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) is a breath-based meditative practice that entails a sequence of specific breathing techniques to help practitioners achieve a state of calm alertness. The goal of this study is to determine the efficacy of SKY breath intervention in treating depressed adolescents and to understand its mechanisms. This will be the first study to evaluate the potential benefits of SKY breath intervention as a treatment option for depressed adolescents.

Current Status: Accepting New Subjects

SKY Breath Intervention For Depressed Adolescents (pdf)