Mentor: Manu Platt Ph.D. |
Mentor: Hannah Song Lee, Ph.D. |
Lab: Mechanics And Tissue Remodeling for Computational and Experimental Systems (MATRICES)

Magnetic Resonance Angiography to Assess Sickle Cell Disease Mediated Carotid and Cerebral Artery Damage

Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder affecting 100,000 Americans. 11% of children with this disease will suffer a major stroke and 37% will suffer a silent stroke to cognitive regions of the brain. Arterial damage and stroke can occur as early as 2 years of age.

In order to analyze the mechanisms that cause arterial damage in SCD, a combination of both in vitro and in silico studies will be used to investigate the morphology and hemodynamics of carotid arteries.

A student who joins this project will work on reconstructing and analyzing images of the arteries collected from MRI scans of our humanized mouse model of sickle cell disease. Software will be used to virtually segment and reconstruct the carotid arteries in 3D, then arterial morphological data can be extracted from the images. 

Secondarily, pathological fluid flow profiles indicate arterial damage. To assess this, computer renderings of the cerebral arteries will be generated from MR scans of sickle and non-sickle mice and implemented into an in-silico model using computational fluid dynamics. 

A CT photo of arteries and a red 3D rendering of arteries
Figure 1: (A) Maximum intensity projection of SS arteries shows kinking in the left common carotid artery. (B) Arteries are reconstructed in 3D using Slicer to be used for CFD modeling

Sickle red blood cells also can aggregate and accumulate inside of the blood vessels. We also have projects investigating the biophysics and attachments of these cells at the multi-cellular level in regions of extremely low flow. Mathematics, computer science, and biophysics principles are applied to model this system and develop predictions of cell behaviors and effective treatments to modify those behaviors.

Interested students should have an interest or background in any of the following areas: cardiovascular disease, blood flow, computational fluid dynamics, sickle cell, complicated health disparities.

Skillsets that are helpful but not required include MATLAB, Python, R, Ansys, or other coding packages.

Our team is willing to teach what you do not know, so don’t let experience stop you! Motivation and willpower go a long way.



BETA Intern Name: Kingsley Garrett
Institution: Hampton University
Project Title: Engineered in vitro carotid artery flow model of endothelial dysfunction in Sickle cell disease


BETA Intern Name: Jarrod Burns
Institution: Gallaudet University