Andrew Michael, PhD
Director, Neuroimaging Analytics Laboratory & Assistant Professor
Most people would not see an overlap in the work of looking at astrophysical images and brain images, but Michael is not “most people.” Michael is an Electrical Engineer with a PhD in Imaging from the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. Michael’s work focuses on developing algorithms and mathematical tools to analyze and extract information from large datasets. His work can be—and has been—extended into many different kinds of datasets. Previously he analyzed data sets from the Very Large Array (a National Radio Astronomy Observatory) as well as images from the Hubble Space Telescope. Now he is looking at magnetic resonance images (MRIs) of human brains.
For his doctoral dissertation, Michael focused on structural and functional MRIs from the brains of patients with mental disorders, especially schizophrenia. Michael compared data from patients to typical or healthy subjects. The purpose of his research is to find patterns in the brain data—a biomarker —to better understand and diagnose mental disorders. To date, many mental disorders are diagnosed using self-reported or observed behavioral symptoms. There is no image-based or biological test that is used to classify conditions categorically. That’s where Michael’s research is heading, to use neuroimaging techniques to understand the neurological underpinnings of these disorders. Developing such a technique will also help to identify and apply interventional therapies earlier.
Michael will bring his training in image and signal processing, pattern recognition, machine learning, and data fusion and apply them to the puzzle of autism and other developmental disorders. ADMI will collect many different types of data from patients, including genetic and brain data. The goal will be to look for linkage patterns between the genes and the brain. Once researchers have a better handle on this, treatments can be customized according to patients’ genetic makeup and their therapeutic progress may be measured through brain imaging metrics. Michael is excited to work in this important area of research and to be part of the multi-disciplinary team at ADMI that includes geneticists, developmental pediatricians, psychologists, radiologists and computer scientists. As Michael says, “It’s a multidisciplinary research environment with real world applications.”