Taub Institute: Genomics Core
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Featured Research

In the Lab:
Frank Provenzano, PhD

Frank Provenzano, PhD

Dr. Frank Provenzano is a neuroimaging biomedical engineer and programmer who has spent his career studying different applications of multi-modal neuroimaging processing techniques in neurological and psychiatric disease models. Specifically, his focus is on the testing and repurposing of neuroimaging data that are acquired from scans not traditionally intended to provide quantitative biomarkers. This interest is based on a history of both MRI and PET imaging, with a consideration for general availability of scans in both identifying and testing signatures of dysfunction, as well as applying those methods prospectively.

Dr. Provenzano had previously analyzed focal differences in FDG-PET imaging from both concussive susceptible sports (Provenzano et al. 2010) and epilepsy (Akman et a 2015), prior to joining the Taub Institute as a research assistant in Dr. Adam Brickman's laboratory. While there, he helped develop several techniques in quantifying white matter hyperintensities (WMH) in MRI, and examining what role these findings play in, among other things, assessing conversion to Alzheimer's disease, cognitive function, and memory loss (Provenzano et al 2013). Dr. Provenzano continued onto his PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Scott Small, where he developed methods for human imaging analysis of cerebral blood volume (CBV) fMRI. This method of imaging uses a variant of routinely acquired T1 weighted imaging to provide submillimeter functional resolution of the brain. Specifically, his techniques measured regional vulnerability in the hippocampal circuit in both preclinical Alzheimer's disease (Khan et al. 2013) and aging (Brickman et al. 2014). He completed his post-doctoral training in the same lab, prior to joining the Taub Institute as faculty in 2017.

Figure: The above image represents a rendering of the hippocampal circuit with different functionally identified changes superimposed upon it. Areas of yellow and orange represent measured changes in preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, areas in blue represent functional changes in aging and areas in green reflect dysfunction in prodromal psychosis. All of these quantifiable metrics can be obtained from routine MRI imaging in the same scanning session. This demonstrates unique patterns of selective vulnerability in the hippocampal circuit.

Currently, Dr. Provenzano's research focus is on the storage, characterization, and analysis of clinically acquired brain MRI and the reliability and feasibility of generating functional measures from those. There are millions of brain MRIs acquired annually that are used for distinct neuroradiological purposes, generally not with the same strict standards, head coils, and manufacturers that research neuroimaging studies prescribe in their protocols. Many of these scans can be adapted for use with modern neuroimaging pipelines to generate measures potentially useful in tracking disease risk and progression in dementia, temporal lobe epilepsy, and schizophrenia, among others. Such potential calculable signatures of dysfunction may then potentially be applied to clinical decision models for patients who are already receiving such scans.

Frank Provenzano, PhD
Assistant Professor of Neurological Sciences (in Neurology and in the Taub Institute)

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