MRtrix3: Advanced tools for the analysis of diffusion MRI data

Diffusion-weighted MRI (dMRI) is a commonly-used medical imaging modality for the investigation of tissue microstructure, exploiting the local hindrance and restriction of water diffusion as indirect probes. The neuroimaging research community utilises this technology extensively for the study of brain white matter in particular, reconstructing structural connectivity pathways and analysing estimated tissue properties.

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Resources for Working from Home

NIF Central has been working from home for over 3 weeks now, and we’re just starting to find our rhythm! From daily video catchups to messaging apps, we’re keeping in touch. But this is a marathon, not a sprint, and we are always looking for ways to improve! Here is a collection of resources that I’ve found useful.

There are upsides and downsides to working from home. This Conversation article, written before the crisis, overviews some of the research into working from home generally.

It’s important to learn from those of us who came before – researchers in isolated field studies and sailors, for example.  Some tips for coping with isolation during lockdown are outlined here. Of course, they didn’t have to worry about home-schooling and childcare. Representing a suite of new challenges,  this guide for WFH with kids may give parents and carers some tips.

Some academics swear by the Pomodoro Technique to get things done. This is a time management technique that exploits deadline anxiety to overcome procrastination – if you’re having difficulty getting anything done while you work from home, this may help! Trackers such as these are also a good way to ensure you’re not working all the time.

LinkedIn has provided 16 online courses for those looking to maximise efficiency, manage the transition to work from home, and manage teamwork. These are particularly good if you’re unable to process all the reading you’ve been doing lately, as they’re video delivered!

Let’s get real for a moment – you can be forgiven if you don’t find time to put any of these ideas into practice! Even finding the energy to consume the resources provided might be enough to put you over the edge. So, I’m going to share these articles, in particular, to outline why your productivity might be down (and why that’s okay) and some steps you can take for your mental health and long-term productivity.

Are you relying on social media to get your social fix? Here are some hashtags on Twitter that you might like to follow:

#PhDChat – posts by or for PhD students

#ECRChat – posts by or for early career researchers

#AcademicChatter – posts by or for academics

#workingfromhome – posts about working from home

There are some good pieces of advice coming out on Twitter about managing your life when you work from home. See for example: Getting things done without going to the lab, WFH with kids,  and videoconference etiquette.

What hashtags and social media gurus are you following? Let us know! We’re here to help and enjoy hearing from you.

MRI investigations of placental structure and function

Preeclampsia is a medical condition affecting up to 3% of pregnant women in Australia. Characterised by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, it is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in both mothers and infants. Furthermore, preeclampsia has been linked to long-term health consequences for both mother and child.

3-D reconstructions of the placenta from MRI images. (left) Foetal surface view of the placenta. (middle) Maternal surface view of the placenta with an overlay showing maternal vasculature. (right) Side view showing maternal vasculature alone

Hampering early diagnosis, prevention, and treatment efforts is a lack of understanding of preeclampsia pathophysiology.  Currently, the cause of this condition is unknown. Prof Annemarie Hennessy and a team of researchers at Western Sydney University are utilising the WSU NIF Node, in collaboration with NIF Fellow Dr Timothy Stait-Gardner, to learn more about this serious condition.

In this project, high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging is being used to examine placental changes in vivo in mouse models of preeclampsia. In addition to the in vivo studies, high-resolution scans of fixed mouse placentas, normal and abnormal, have been used to create a placental atlas. The creation of a placental atlas and a number of publications have provided important information on mouse models of preeclampsia, including its characterisation and how to differentiate between different models of preeclampsia from T2 maps of the mouse placentas. These works have provided some of the basis for investigations of new treatments of preeclampsia.


This story was contributed by the Western Sydney University NIF Node. For further information, please contact Dr Timothy Stait-Gardner.

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