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We are delighted to congratulate Carole Sudre on securing a well-deserved Biomedical Junior Fellowship from Alzheimer’s Society. This fellowship aims to better understand how white matter and neurovascular diseases influence the development and progression of dementia.

Carole completed her studies at Ecole Polytechnique, France with a major in Applied Mathematics and then a Msc in Biomedical Engineering from ETH Zurich. Following a short internship in the Translational Imaging Group (TIG), UCL in 2011, she returned to UCL to undertake her PhD with TIG and the Dementia Research Centre.

 

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Carole’s PhD research focused on evaluating markers of small vessel disease, such as white matter hyperintensities (WMH), from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. She has developed machine learning algorithms for the automated segmentation and characterisation of WMH which have since been presented at international conferences, published in peer-review journals, and used in ageing research and several clinical studies.

Her fellowship will expand her experience and research in vascular disease to its impact on cognition in neurodegenerative diseases. This work is so important as the close relationship between vascular damage and neurodegeneration remains underexplored.

It is increasingly understood that vascular disease can contribute to dementia. The deterioration of blood supply to the brain can cause damage to the fibres that relay information and are necessary for brain functioning. Which fibres are impacted by this then affects what kind of impairment in brain functioning is observed. For instance, particular areas of damage seem to be linked to specific cognitive abilities and dementia symptoms, such as loss of balance, depression, decrease in speed of processing and reduced attention.

Vascular damage to the brain can be detected using MRI. Carole will develop a software tool to automatically detect, characterise and quantify what brain damage has been caused by vascular disease. She aims to use this data to predict the impact of the detected damage and the type of decline that the patient may be likely to experience.

This work will enhance clinicians’ ability to give patients an accurate prognosis and it may allow patients to make appropriate lifestyle changes that could prolong their independence and delay progression of symptoms. We look forward to following her advances in this field.  

 

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Figure 1. Typical illustration of how changes linked to aging in blood vessels (indicated by the red arrows) can look like in different brain images obtained using different settings of magnetic resonance imaging (columns). 1st row: Enlarged perivascular space; 2nd row: Lacune; 3rd row: white matter hyperintensity.