E-news from the
International Society for Magnetic Resonance
in Medicine

Vol. 3, Issue 1, March 2014

Spotlight on Diffusion in Podstrana, Croatia

The ISMRM workshop on Diffusion as a Probe of Neural Tissue Microstructure was held 14 - 18 October in the beautiful coastal Adriatic setting of Podstrana, Croatia. It was the third ISMRM workshop organized by the Diffusion Study Group in this century after the meetings in Saint-Malo (2002) and Lake Louise (2005). The meeting focussed on the nervous system due to the growing amount of experimental and analytical methods developed on this topic since the previous meeting 8 years earlier. The workshop was structured around 24 invited talks, which were excellent, and 96 proffered poster presentations covering a wide span of diffusion MRI, from methodology to clinical application. The workshop was well attended with 175 attendees from around the globe. The secluded location of the workshop hotel facilitated mingling and long informal discussions.

After an overview of the field, the workshop focused on discussions of data acquisition, analysis strategies, and modelling, all geared to yield key insight into neural tissue microstructure. While the methods demonstrated real progress, it is clear that data interpretation and reliability are still a works-in-progress. One of the more involved debates was on what microstructural features of white matter fibers can be determined in clinical scanners. The verification of in-vivo results was identified as a key nontrivial problem. A flavor of the real tissue microstructure that is the ultimate goal of diffusion MRI was given using “big” data obtained with electron microscopy and polarized-light microscopy. Fiber tracking and connectomics were discussed in relation to their contributions to neuroscience, as well as their limitations and need for further development. A discussion of the frontiers, perspectives and challenges concluded the open-end workshop that raised more questions than it answered. Diffusion MRI continues to be an active and engaging research area that will no doubt require another ISMRM workshop (but hopefully sooner than 8 years from now). 

The program, with recorded majority of oral presentations available, is available for viewing by the ISMRM membership.  

The Diffusion Study Group would like to thank the ISMRM as well as its Corporate Members and Agilent for sponsoring the workshop. The Study Group acknowledges gratefully the ISMRM Research & Education Fund for providing stipend support for our trainee/student participants. Many thanks also to Sandra Daudlin who managed the on-site meeting operations and kept everything running smoothly.