Luis Lacerda
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Personal profile

Research interests

I have been recently awarded (2012) the integrated master of Biomedical Engineering and Biophysics degree at the Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon, Portugal. 

While studying for my degree I was involved in different projects related to diagnostic imaging, in particular Magnetic Resonance Imaging and more specifically Diffusion weighted magnetic resonance imaging. I worked in contrast simulation in Magnetic Resonance Imaging before carrying out an internship on Diffusional Kurtosis Imaging and joining the Institute of Psychiatry (Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences), where I performed my master thesis project on automatic analysis of diffusion imaging and tractography data.  Following on my MSc work, I joined a Scholarship in Portugal on Functional and Structural Brain Connectivity applied to study of the limbic system.

 Since last April (2013), I returned the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences as I was awarded a Phd Industrial Case Studentship for a project on Quantitative white matter imaging.

Applications for Diffusion weighted imaging range from determining the area of potentially salvageable tissue surrounding an acute stroke lesion to the use of tractography (the estimation of the trajectories of white matter pathways within the brain from diffusion imaging data) in the planning of surgical resections. However, current approaches (based on diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)) have a number of limitations, largely related to the very simple model of the underlying tissue DTI imposes. This both limits the scientific validity of the results obtained and, in clinical applications, leads to problems such as the inability of DTI-based tractography to appropriately deal with crossing fibres. More comprehensive sampling of diffusion properties can be achieved using advanced MR diffusion acquisition schemes such as Diffusion Spectrum Imaging (DSI), but are inherently time consuming, and therefore not currently widely used.

 Therefore, my current PhD project will help to overcome these limitations by combining two newly developed approaches (in terms of diffusion modelling and acquisition) into a unified research platform for quantitative neuroimaging. This unified platform will incorporate acquisition and processing protocols for generalized diffusion imaging sampling schemes, which can be adapted for specific clinical applications including DTI, Kurtosis Imaging, Spherical Deconvolution and DSI. Immediate applications will be in a range of white matter disorders including Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s Disease and Stroke. 

 As a complement to my education and research experience I have also being involved in the organization of several events regarding biomedical engineering inside my university, such as the Workshops in Biomedical Engineering (Lisbon 2008-2013) and the University open-day. I have also started to organize the Friday Neuroimaging lectures at the Institute of Psychiatry.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Biophysics; HARDI Methods - Tractography Reconstructions and Automatic Parcellation of Brain Connectivity, University of Lisbon

Award Date: 1 Jan 2012

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