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The Parkinsonism Neuroimaging Laboratory (www.pdmrilab.org) at Emory University, led by Dr. Huddleston, focuses on the development and application of MRI methods to study Parkinson’s disease and related neurodegenerative disorders. The lab uses novel neuromelanin-sensitive and multicontrast MRI methods to study neurodegeneration in the substantia nigra, locus coeruleus and related neural systems. An overarching goal of this work is to develop MRI tools to assist the early detection and differential diagnosis of parkinsonian disorders and to make clinical trials for these disorders more successful.
We take an interdisciplinary approach to combine MRI technologies with other data types (clinical assessments, neurocognitive testing, metabolomics, other molecular markers) to discover and validate new disease markers and signatures. To accomplish this, Dr. Huddleston's lab works closely with technical experts in MRI physics, image processing, machine learning, metabolomics, neurobiology and biomedical informatics. Dr. Huddleston's background in movement disorders neurology, Parkinson’s disease biology, and MRI methods allows us to investigate complex aspects of disease mechanisms, with the ultimate goal of improving patient care.
We are currently seeking 1-2 postdoctoral fellows to work in the lab. Ideal candidates will have a background which includes image processing and strong data analysis skills. Previous experience using FSL, Freesurfer or other image processing packages, as well as MATLAB, will be useful. Python coding skills will also be useful. A strong interest in neuroscience applications for MRI and multimodal strategies is required. Qualified candidates will have excellent scientific writing ability and strong oral communication skills. They must also be able to work effectively and collegially with colleagues. This position will provide opportunity for educational growth in the application of novel and advanced MRI technologies to the study of parkinsonian diseases.
The postdoctoral fellow will be involved in the development and application of an image processing pipeline that Dr. Huddleston is developing with collaborators in MRI physics/bioengineering and machine learning.
The postdoctoral fellow will have a number of impactful educational opportunities with Dr. Huddleston, and through frequent interactions with collaborators. His research approach involves the use of pulse sequences sensitive to disease-relevant tissue characteristics in ROIs implicated in pathogenesis. His laboratory has developed novel pulse sequences and image processing tools, as well as automated pipelines to carry out this work. Dr. Huddleston and his collaborators are recognized leaders in the field of neuromelanin-sensitive MRI. Machine learning tools are applied in the context of hypothesis-directed biological questions. We collect biofluids at study visits and collaborate with a metabolomics laboratory at Emory to develop multimodal disease signatures. We are also currently working with neurobiology collaborators to develop a new MRI-monitored model for Parkinson’s disease.
We have conducted human studies since 2010, and we have completed >340 MRI study visits. This work has led to an extensive database and the identification of an array of candidate MRI markers for prodromal and symptomatic Parkinson’s disease. We have an immediate need to produce manuscripts reporting existing findings from our ongoing studies. The overarching goal of this research program is to develop biomarker tools, therapeutic targets and new therapies to treat and prevent Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, multiple system atrophy, progressive supranuclear palsy and related conditions.
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