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Dr Bleddyn Woodward

Research student

Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ
Welsh speaking


Research summary

Essential hypertension is a major contributor to global mortality. Despite this, the aetiology of the disease is not well understood. Cushing's hypothesis on the origin of essential hypertension proposes that impaired brainstem perfusion may lead to a compensatory increase in sympathetic nerve activity, and consequently systemic blood pressure, in an effort to maintain adequate brainstem blood flow

My PhD aims to investigate Cushing's hypothesis through the application of both structural and functional high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods.





In order to achieve the high-resolution that is necessary to differentiate between small brainstem structures, pulse sequences and analysis pipelines are being tailored towards ultra-high field 7 Tesla MRI, where increased signal can be traded for spatial resolution. 7T time-of-flight magnetic resonance angiography (TOF MRA) has been applied to visualise brainstem perforating vessels. Using arterial spin labelling (ASL), brainstem perfusion measurements are being optimised at 3T. Efforts have been made to address the technical challenges that are inherent in ultra-high field MRI, including comparisons of various radiofrequency (RF) coils, and the use of dielectric pads to overcome transmit-field inhomogeneities and specific absorption rate (SAR) limitations.

Funding source

MRC GW4 Biomed DTP