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Research group/lab

Applied Physiological Neuroimaging

This research line is focused on the non-invasive, in vivo visualisation of the human brain’s function and (micro)structure under physiological and pathological conditions.

About our research group/lab

Our research

This research line is focused on the human brain’s function and (micro)structure under physiological and particularly under pathological conditions. Physiological and functional MR neuroimaging techniques are uniquely suited to study the human brain in vivo. These techniques include functional MRI (fMRI), diffusion and perfusion MR imaging. The clinical applicability of these various imaging techniques and their findings are an important aspect of this research line. The research is performed in a continuous interplay between fundamental imaging research and clinical practice, with a primary focus on Neuro-Oncology. This means that there is a close collaboration with clinically as well as technically oriented researchers, in particular within the Erasmus MC Brain Tumor Center and the Medical Delta.

Clinical validation

Transition of newly developed imaging techniques from the lab to clinical practice, including arterial spin labeling (ASL), chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST), and quantitative imaging techniques such as T1 and T2 mapping. This work is done in close collaboration with the MRI physics group and Biomedical Imaging Group Rotterdam.

Diagnostics & Surrogate markers

Development of non-invasive tools to diagnose disease as well as treatment effects at tissue level, using techniques such as imaging genomics and radiomics, and advanced imaging techniques such as functional MRI. This work is done in close collaboration with clinical colleagues at the Brain Tumour Centre Rotterdam, Neuroscience, the Medical Delta (HollandPTC, TUDelft, LUMC), as well as the EORTC.

Implementation

Assessment and dissemination of imaging protocols and protocol harmonisation through leading positions as well as educational activities in European organisations.

Our projects

  • iGENE: establishing imaging phenotypes of glioma genotypes.
  • GLASS-NL: longitudinal radiogenomics of IDH mutated astrocytoma.
  • PERISCOPE: assessing the value of perfusion MRI in brain tumour surveillance in the Netherlands.
  • Making the invisible visible: In vivo mapping of molecular biomarkers in adult diffuse glioma with CEST MRI, correlated with proteomics from tissue obtained through targeted biopsies.
  • Cancer Diagnostics 3.0: improving non-invasive brain tumour diagnosis using advanced acquisition and analysis techniques of both in and ex vivo imaging data.
  • Vascular signature mapping: developing novel imaging and analysis tools for assessing brain tumour genotypical vascularisation.

Key Publications

Collaborations

Collaboration within Erasmus MC

  • Brain Tumour Centre Rotterdam (Neuro-Oncology, Pathology, Neurosurgery, Radiation Oncology, Oncology)
  • Neuroscience – CUBE

Collaboration outside of Erasmus MC

  • Medical Delta: HollandPTC, LUMC (Prof. M. van Osch), TUDelft (Prof. S. Stallinga)
  • All Dutch Neuro-oncology centres, in particular UMCG, NKI-AVL, UMCU, HMC, ETZ
  • University College London – National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery
  • King’s College London
  • European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)

Funding & Grants

  • Smits, Marion, Matthias van Osch, Stefan Klein, Dirk Poot, Juan Hernandez Tamames: NWO-TTW 2019-2024: “MR vascular fingerprinting of molecular brain tumour genotypes”
  • Smits, Marion, Martin van den Bent and Wiro Niessen: Koningin Wilhelmina Fonds 2015-2019: “Non-invasive phenotyping of molecular brain tumour profiles using novel advanced MR imaging and analysis”
  • Smits, Marion, Anouk van der Hoorn, Jan Willem Dankbaar, Dieta Brandsma, Bas Jasperse, Linda Dirven, Filip de Vos, Myriam Hunink: ZonMW Leading the Change 2018-2021: “The clinical value of perfusion MRI in primary and secondary brain tumour surveillance”
  • Smits, Marion, Esther Warnert, Safa Al-Sarraj, Keyoumars Ashkan, Gareth Barker , Martin van den Bent, Thomas Booth, Juan Hernadez-Tamames, Johan (Max) Kros, Theo Luider, Joost Schouten, Arnaud Vincent, Tobias Wood: The Brain Tumour Charity 2018-2020: “Making the invisible visible: In vivo mapping of molecular biomarkers in adult diffuse glioma with CEST MRI”
  • Smits, Marion, Thijs van Osch, Sjoerd Stallinga: Medical Delta 2018-2022: “Cancer Diagnostics 3.0: Big data science of in & ex vivo imaging”
  • Van Osch, Thijs, Frans Vos, Marion Smits, Alejandra Mendez Romero: HollandPTC-Varian 2018-2022: “New methodology for developing biomarkers of radiation-induced toxicity in brain tumour patients based on advanced MR imaging of the microvasculature and white matter microstructure”
  • Mendez Romero, Alejandra, Martin Taphoorn, Martin van den Bent, Marion Smits, Mischa Hoogeman: HollandPTC-Varian 2018-2022: “Improving toxicity modelling, patient selection and clinical outcome of proton therapy in low grade glioma”
  • Wesseling, Pieter, Johan Kros, Mathilde Kouwenhoven,  Marion Smits, Pim French, Mark van der Wiel, Martin van den Bent, Roel Verhaak: Koningin Wilhelmina Fonds 2017-2021: “Glioma Longitudinal AnalySiS in the Netherlands: GLASS-NL”
  • Steketee, Rebecca, Marion Smits, Janne Papma: Theia Foundation 2017-2019: “Diagnosis of dementia with MRI in the greater Rotterdam area: faster and better”

Our team