Brain Imaging Group (BIG)


Our team explores the structure and function of the brain using imaging, in both pre-clinical and human models.

The applications of our research span a broad area, including cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative disease, neurogenesis, hypoxia, obstructive brain disorders, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other areas of neuroscience.

Our work focuses on enhancing medical imaging technologies (mainly Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)) to maximize the ability of imaging to more accurately detect and diagnose brain disease and disorders. We use enhancements in MRI to explore new ways of viewing the complex functions of the brain. Our work crosses over a number of fields, including medical imaging, physics, software development, radiology, neuroscience, and neurology.

Our People

Microstructural MRI
Microstructural MRI

Dr Samantha Holdsworth
Senior Lecturer, Department of Anatomy and Medical Imaging
Dr Samantha Holdsworth is a medical physicist with over 18 years of experience in MRI acquisition, post-processing, and analysis. She is a pioneer of fast, high resolution diffusion imaging methods in MRI, ‘plural contrast’ MRI, and amplified MRI.  Samantha has successfully translated a variety of her MRI methodologies to clinical practice through her streamlined image reconstruction methods, leading to better detection of brain injury and neurodegenerative disease. Other research interests include the off-label use of iron oxide contrast agents for improved visualization of the vascular architecture, brain tumour, stroke, and inflammatory nerve root imaging. She also has experience in Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping (QSM) and 4D flow MRI techniques. Her primary interest in in the application of novel imaging technologies for the early detection of concussion/mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).

Dr Catherine Morgan
Research Fellow, School of Psychology
Senior Physicist, Centre for Advanced MRI (CAMRI)
Dr Catherine Morgan is a medical physicist with 8 years’ experience in MRI research, including pulse sequence programming, protocol optimisation, image post-processing, and image analysis. She has extensive experience in quantitative MRI (T1, T2 and multi-parametric mapping), fMRI methods, and techniques to measure brain perfusion (such as Arterial Spin Labelling) and blood flow. Catherine has experience with new methods in oncology such as Chemical Exchange Saturation Transfer (CEST) to study glucose metabolism and pH alterations, and Equilibrium-MRI. She has also studied a variety of techniques to measure iron deposition in the brain. Her current focus is on developing novel imaging methods to study Alzheimer’s disease and is part of a nationwide Brain Research New Zealand funded study of mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer’s.


Associate Professor Miriam Scadeng
Head of Radiology, Department of Anatomy and Medical Imaging
Associate Professor Miriam Scadeng is a research radiologist and MRI scientist with 19 years of experience developing novel high field MRI to investigate clinical and preclinical models of human disease. Her recent studies focus on hypoxia, traumatic brain injury, hydrocephalus, drug abuse,  neurodegeneration, and neurogenesis using techniques such as arterial spin labelling to measure cerebral blood flow, and high-resolution diffusion tensor imaging. She is a leader in the field of comparative imaging of anatomy and physiology of various species (humans, dolphins, killer whales, rodents, birds, zebrafish, amongst others) as well as the development of new contrast techniques and agents. She also has expertise in neuroanatomy, gross anatomy, radiological anatomy, and physiology.

Dr David Dubowitz
Director, Centre for Advanced MRI (CAMRI)
Dr David Dubowitz is the Director of the Centre for Advanced MRI (CAMRI). He is a neuroradiologist, neuroscientist, and electrical engineer with 22 years’ experience in the development and application of brain MRI methods. David is interested in MRI measurements of cerebral physiology, in particular control of cerebral blood flow and oxygen metabolism, and the cerebral physiological response to hypoxia. David has worked on fMRI methods to understand how blood flow, resting-state fMRI connectivity and oxygen metabolism are impacted in migraine. David’s other research interests are in studies of the brain microstructure changes during sleep; MRI measurements of pulmonary blood flow; and in magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS).

Associate Professor Alan Wang
Auckland Bioengineering Institute
Associate Professor Alan Wang has more than ten years of research experience in computational radiology, especially in advancing the role of neuroimaging quantifications in health care. He has expertise in developing innovative multimodal neuroimage analysis methods such as tissue segmentation, lesion detection, function localization, fiber projection, volumetric and surface morphometry, structural and functional connectivity etc. based on statistical learning and deep learning theories. He has experience in analyzing huge cohorts of patient radiology data with successful applications of early diagnosis, disease understanding and effective treatment of patients with neurodegenerative diseases / neurological disorders.