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

Vol. 3, Issue 1, March 2014

2013-2014 Junior Fellow

Noam Shemesh
Weizmann Institute of Science

(Now at Champalimaud Center for the Unknown)

I still remember my first encounter with MRI during a lecture near the end of my B.Sc. studies at the School of Chemistry in Tel Aviv University in 2006. Prof. Yoram Cohenís talk presented diffusion MRI approaches for probing microstructures within Central-Nervous-System (CNS) tissues, and how the ensuing contrasts could be harnessed for mapping abnormalities completely noninvasively. What struck me in particular was the span of subjects covered during the course of those 45 minutes: interactions of strong magnetic fields with endogenous spins, restricted diffusion physics, the emergence of diffusion-diffraction patterns, pulse sequences designed to sensitize these spins towards particular interactions, myelinated axons and how their morphology alters upon neurodegeneration, and in vivo experiments in animal models with the outlook of translational research. I feel very lucky that Prof. Cohen chose to conclude his lecture with the words ďÖand anyone who is interested in the subject is welcome in my office for further discussionsĒ. Following this open invitation I literally barged into the open door, and was further captivated by the wonderful world of MRI.

I later joined Prof. Cohenís lab as a PhD student, pursuing the characterization of highly heterogeneous and disordered system via double-Pulsed-Field-Gradient (dPFG) approaches. In keeping with my earlier impressions of truly multidisciplinary research, our experiments spanned a large range of heterogeneous systems ranging from porous rocks and emulsions to in vivo rat brains, where dPFG generated novel sources of microstructural contrast. In 2011 I joined the Chemical Physics department in the Weizmann Institute of Science for a post-doc under the aegis of Prof. Lucio Frydman. Seeking to significantly advance the sensitivity of diffusion-based MRI towards small microstructures, we developed the Non-Uniform Oscillating-Gradient Spin-Echo (NOGSE)-MRI approach, which harnesses diffusion dynamics to interrogate restricting length scales with an unprecedented
l6 sensitivity. As well, following our serendipitous discovery of metabolic Longitudinal Relaxation Enhancements and their ensuing sensitivity enhancements, we strived to apply dPFG filters in MR Spectroscopy for cellular-specific probing of randomly oriented microstructures in vivo at ultrahigh fields.  

I have been a member of the Society since 2007, when I attended my first ISMRM Annual Meeting in Berlin (2007) through the support of a New Entrantís Stipend. I have since attended every single Annual Meeting, each year discovering new science, advancing and augmenting my education through ISMRMís courses, and benefiting from a unique venue for dissemination of own results and meeting colleagues and friends. In 2011, I had the tremendous honor of winning the Societyís II Rabi Young Investigator Award. Indeed, during these critical years of scientific development, my ISMRM experiences have had a tremendous impact on my life as a young researcher.

Iím gradually becoming more involved with the Societyís activities, and the Junior Fellowship marked a unique occasion for me to begin to assume more responsibilities within the Society that had contributed so much to my development. In particular, I strongly believe in ISMRMís commitment to educating the next generations, and feel privileged to be able to teach in the ISMRM Educational Sessions. I remain grateful for ISMRMís enduring support and look forward to contributing my part in advancing the Society towards fulfilling its goals and missions.

These days I am establishing my Lab at the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme (Champalimaud Center for the Unknown, Lisbon, Portugal). The Lab will strive to investigate neural activity elicited by optogenetic stimulations via novel MRS/MRI mechanisms; it will further aim at developing and applying methods capable of mapping unique microstructural modulations in vivo Ė whether arising from plasticity on the one hand, or from disease onset on the other hand. The nature of these highly exciting vistas truly resonates with ISMRMís missions; we look forward to presenting our results in many Annual Meetings in years to come!