Functional Imaging for NeuroDiagnostics for Epilepsy and Resective Surgery (FINDERS)
Research Priority Area
How to Join
Potential scientific collaborators may contact Dr. Flavius Raslau.
Determining where a seizure starts in the brain makes it possible for physicians specializing in epilepsy to decide on the most appropriate treatment, including surgery. When the site of the seizure can be found rapidly and accurately by EEG, MRI, and other means of neuroimaging, physicians can diagnose and treat patients quickly and effectively. But in many cases traditional EEG and MRI techniques are unable to accurately locate where a seizure arises in the brain, limiting surgical treatment options. New creative multidisciplinary approaches are needed to improve seizure onset localization in medically refractory focal epilepsy.
Funded by the University of Kentucky College of Medicine’s Alliance Research Initiative, Functional Imaging and NeuroDiagnostics for Epilepsy and Resective Surgery (FINDERS) works to improve the treatment of epilepsy by bringing advanced neuroimaging techniques into use in the clinic. The goal of the FINDERS alliance is to improve localization of seizures, diagnosis, and treatment options through the development of new brain imaging methods. An important part of meeting that goal is the gathering of a transdisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians. Accordingly, FINDERS will pull together clinical collaborators including radiologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, nurses, technologists as well as engineers, neuroscientists, neuroimagers, physicists, biostatisticians, and other researchers from the colleges of medicine, engineering, and public health.
Flavius Raslau, MD, associate professor in the department of radiology, started and presently leads the FINDERS alliance. Dr. Raslau is a neuroradiologist with a research interest in epilepsy and the application of advanced imaging modalities. He is the director of the clinical fMRI program at University of Kentucky and the lead neuroradiologist of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program. He is responsible for creating and fine-tuning the MRI protocols for epilepsy imaging and incorporating advanced post-processing pipelines into routine clinical practice, including texture analysis developed under Dr. Bernasconi at the Montreal Neurological Institute and morphometric analysis program (MAP18) developed under Dr. Huppertz at the Swiss Epilepsy Clinic. His passion is translating research tools into routine clinical practice.
Brian Gold, PhD, professor in the department of neuroscience, has served as the co-principal investigator of FINDERS. Dr. Gold is a co-director of the University of Kentucky’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy Center, a focal point for advanced neuroimaging research in Kentucky. He directs a number of neuroimaging studies with the goal of understanding age-related changes in the brain and developing biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Dr. Gold also leads the neuroimaging component of the biomarker core at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, the University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, and is the site leader of the neuroimaging core of the University of Kentucky’s MarkVCID site, a national consortium of seven academic medical centers focusing on age-related cognitive impairment and dementia.
Meriem Bensalem-Owen, MD, professor in the department of neurology, serves as the co-principal investigator of FINDERS. Dr. Bensalem-Owen is the director of the epilepsy program and plays a significant role in directing a multidisciplinary team that provides a variety of medical and surgical approaches for the management of drug-resistant epilepsy patients. Dr. Bensalem-Owen has been involved in several therapeutic clinical and surgical trials, and she directs the first and only ACGME-accredited epilepsy fellowship in the state of Kentucky.
One remarkable and advanced form of neuroimaging to be used by the FINDERS alliance combines two familiar methods: EEG and MRI. EEG alone can identify epilepsy but has poor spatial resolution that limits identifying the focus of the seizure, which often lies deep in the brain. MRI has good spatial resolution throughout the brain, including deep regions, but it is not specific to epilepsy. When combined, however, the strengths of the two methods produce a neuroimaging technique that works better than either one alone in the identification of seizures, ultimately providing a better guide for surgical treatment options.
Another neuroimaging technique under development is postictal ASL, which involves getting an MRI immediately after a seizure happens. The idea is that quantifying changes in blood flow can identify the spot in the brain where a seizure started.
Another project underway involves analyzing EEG recordings immediately after a seizure with complex computational methods that aim to model the onset and spread of seizure activity.
The vision of the FINDERS alliance is to create a sustainable research program that investigates the synergy of MRI and EEG in medically refractory focal epilepsy with special attention to the postictal period, which has been underexplored for seizure onset localization. FINDERS will support clinicians to compete successfully for grants. Mentorship by established scientists will provide these clinicians the training and resources to become clinical investigators, advancing their skills and improving the treatment of epilepsy patients in Kentucky.
- Timothy Ainger, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology
- Jihye Bae, PhD, Assistant Professor – College of Engineering
- Meriem Bensalem-Owen, MD, Professor – Department of Neurology
- Jordan Clay, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology
- Kevin Donohue, PhD, Professor – College of Engineering
- Ima M. Ebong, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology
- Riham El Khouli, MD, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Radiology
- Brian Gold, PhD, Professor – Department of Neuroscience
- Larry Goldstein, MD, Chair and Professor – Department of Neurology
- Jean Gotman, PhD, Professor and Lab Director – McGill University
- Zahra Haghighat, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology
- Peter Hardy, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Radiology
- Anika Hartz, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences
- Susan Hollar, MBA, R.EEGT – Neurodiagnostic Services
- Siddarth Kapoor, MD, Associate Professor – Department of Neurology
- Gulam Q. Khan, MD, Associate Professor – Department of Neurology
- Andreas Koupparis, PhD – The Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics
- Richard Kryscio, PhD, Professor – College of Public Health
- Zabeen Mahuwala, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology
- Sally Mathias, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology
- Farhan Mirza, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurosurgery
- M. Elizabeth Oates, MD, Chair and Professor – Department of Radiology
- David Powell, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Neuroscience
- Flavius Raslau, MD, Associate Professor – Department of Radiology
- Frederick Schmitt, PhD, Professor – Department of Neurology
- Sridhar Sunderam, PhD, Associate Professor – College of Engineering
- Ruta Yardi, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology
- Julie Youssefi, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology