Neuroimaging and Visual Science Laboratory

The Neuroimaging and Visual Science Laboratory is part of the Departments of Ophthalmology and Radiology at NYU Langone Health. Directed by Kevin C. Chan, PhD, our laboratory focuses on developing and applying new methods for non-invasively imaging neurodegeneration, neurodevelopment, neuroplasticity and neuroregeneration in vision-related diseases and injuries to guide vision preservation and restoration.

Graphic representing technical study of ophthalmology.

Major Research Directions

  1. Structural, metabolic, physiological and functional relationships between eye, brain and behavior in health and disease
     
  2. MR ocular imaging and neuroimaging of degeneration, development, plasticity, protection and regeneration

Ongoing Research Projects

  1. Glaucoma Neuroimaging and Neurotherapeutics in Humans and Experimental Animal Models
    Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world. Although elevated eye pressure is a major risk factor, recent evidence suggests the involvement of the brain’s visual system, apart from the eye, in the early degenerative mechanisms of the disease. However, the pathogenesis of glaucoma in the visual system remains largely undetermined. Our lab's research goal is to develop novel structural and physiological magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques for whole-brain and non-invasive measurements of early changes and disease progression along the visual pathway in glaucoma patients. Our recent research has demonstrated structural, metabolic and functional relationships between eye, brain and vision loss in patients with early and advanced stage disease when brain MRI findings were compared with clinical ophthalmic assessments. We also combine neuroimaging and neurotherapeutic approaches to guide vision preservation and restoration in humans and experimental animal models. The development of novel methods for characterizing and monitoring chronic glaucoma in the visual system can potentially lead to more timely intervention and more targeted treatments to reduce the prevalence of this irreversible but preventable neurodegenerative disease.
     
  2. The Neural Basis of Sensory Substitution in the Blind
    Visual impairment is a major health problem worldwide. When vision loss becomes irreversible, some solutions seek to assist patients to 'see' with their remaining sensory modalities by converting live visual information into patterns of sound or touch. This process is termed 'sensory substitution'. To date, little is known about how these new technological senses interact with the brain to influence perception and behavior in the blind. Our lab aims to investigate sensory substitution technologies and improve visual neurorehabilitation strategies, by identifying the structural and functional brain networks involved in sensory substitution, and by examining the plastic brain changes resulting from multisensory training through the combined use of advanced neuroimaging and neuromodulation techniques.
     
  3. Ocular Structures and Physiology
    Although glaucoma treatments alter aqueous humor dynamics to lower intraocular pressure, the regulatory mechanisms of ocular fluid circulation and their contributions to the pathogenesis of ocular hypertension and glaucoma remain unclear. In addition, the microstructural organization and composition of the corneoscleral shell determine the biomechanical behavior of the eye, and are important in diseases such as glaucoma and myopia. In our laboratory, we study the ocular structures and physiology including aqueous humor dynamics, retinal pathophysiology, and microstructures and macromolecules in sclera and cornea, to understand the basics of ocular biomechanics and guide controlled ocular drug delivery in glaucoma and other vision disorders of the eye. We also study the efficacy of novel ocular reconstruction approaches such as whole-eye transplantation, osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis and cataract surgery for vision restoration.
     
  4. MRI/MRS Engineering and Methods Development for Examining the Visual System
    ​Understanding the mechanisms of vision in health and disease requires knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the eye and the neural pathways relevant to visual perception. As such, development of imaging techniques for the visual system is crucial for unveiling the neural basis of visual function or impairment. In our laboratory, we develop and refine advanced MR imaging and spectroscopic methods to improve the sensitivity and specificity of evaluating the visual system in health and disease. These techniques include contrast-enhanced MRI (using manganese, gadolinium, iron oxide nanoparticles, and chromium, for example), diffusion MRI, functional MRI, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, susceptibility-weighted MRI, and magic angle–enhanced MRI of the eye and the brain.

Major Financial Support

  1. National Institutes of Health (R01 EY028125) 
  2. BrightFocus Foundation National Glaucoma Research Program (G2013077, G2016030, G2019103) 
  3. Alcon Research Institute Young Investigator Grant
  4. Research to Prevent Blindness/Stavros Niarchos Foundation International Research Collaborators Award

Postdoctoral Opportunity

We are actively seeking candidates for a Postdoctoral Fellow position to perform MRI research of the visual system for guiding vision preservation and restoration. Learn More >>

Lab Members

Members of lab, group portrait.

Postdoctoral Fellows

2018 – Present

Muneeb A. Faiq, PhD (2019 ARVO MIT Poster Award Finalist; 2019 Alliance for Eye and Vision Research Emerging Vision Scientist)

2018 – Present

Giles Hamilton-Fletcher, PhD (2018 Alliance for Eye and Vision Research Emerging Vision Scientist)

2017 – Present

Ji Won Bang, PhD (2019 ARVO Foundation/National Eye Institute Travel Grant)

2017 – Present

Carlos Parra, PhD

2019 – 2020

Anoop Sainulabdeen, MVSc, PhD (Last known position: Assistant Professor of Veterinary Surgery & Radiology, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University )

2018 – 2019

Helen Xinlei Wang, MD, PhD (Last known position: Medical entrepreneur in China)

2014 – 2016

Xiaoling Yang, MD (Last known position: Spectroscopist at University of Pittsburgh; Award: 2015 ARVO Hot Topics recognition for top 6% abstracts)

2013 – 2016

Matthew C. Murphy, PhD (Last known position: Assistant Professor of Radiology, Mayo Clinic, 2016-present) (Awards: 2014-16 NIH T32EY017271-06 grantee; 2014 ISMRM educational stipend award; 2014 ISMRM Magna Cum Laude Award for top 15% abstract)

2011 – 2012

Ian P. Conner, MD, PhD (Last known position: Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, 2012-present)

Graduate Students

2020 – Present

Shunwen Wang, BS (Master’s student in Biomedical engineering, NYU Tandon School of Engineering)

2019 – Present

Anna M. Chen, BS (Sackler Institute PhD rotation student)

2019 – Present

Zhe Sun, MS, MD (Sackler Institute PhD rotation student)

2019 – Present

Jessie J Zhu, MS (Visiting graduate student at Capital Medical University, Beijing, China) (Award: 2019 Chinese Government Scholarship for Joint Doctoral Training Program at NYULH Ophthalmology)

2019 – 2020

Yash Deshpande, BS (Master’s student in Data Science, NYU College  of Arts & Science)

2019 – 2020

Philip Ekfeldt, BS (Award: NYU Center for Data Science/Moore-Sloan Summer Research Internship; Master’s student in Data Science, NYU College of Arts & Science)

2017 – 2019

Monica Mendoza, MS (Master’s student in Biomedical engineering, NYU Tandon School of Engineering)

2014 – 2018

Yolandi van der Merwe, PhD (Last known position: Senior Consultant - Navigant, USA); (Awards: 2016 ARVO Hot Topics recognition for top 2% abstracts; 2015-17 ISMRM educational stipend award; 2015&2017 ISMRM Summa Cum Laude Award for top 5% abstract; 2015&2016 ISMRM Magna Cum Laude Award for top 15% abstract)

2014 – 2017

Caitlin O’ Connell, PhD (Last known position: Postdoctoral fellow at East Carolina University, USA); (Co-advisor/PhD thesis committee member)

2013 – 2015

Leon C. Ho, PhD (Last known position: Resident Physicist, Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital, Hong Kong); (Awards: 2014 & 2015 ISMRM educational stipend awards; 2014 ISMRM Magna Cum Laude Awards (x2) for top 15% abstracts)

Residents and Medical Students

2020 – Present

Nicole Colwell, MD

2019 – Present

Megan Rowlands, MD

2018 – Present

Vishnu Adi, MPH (Visiting student at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine, Old Westbury, NY)

2017 – Present

Max K. Colbert, BS (Award: 2019 ARVO Foundation/BrightFocus Foundation Travel Grant; 2018 Liesegang fellowship for clinical ophthalmology research; )

2017 – Present

Jeffrey Sims, BS (Award: 2017 Liesegang fellowship for clinical ophthalmology research)

2018 – 2019

Malack Hamade, BS (Visiting Student at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY)

2017 – 2019

Ahmel Arshad, BSc (Visiting student at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Middletown, NY)

2012 – 2016

Cindy Y. Teng, BA [Awards: NIH T32MH019986 training grantee; 2015 ARVO National Eye Institute award; 2015 ARVO Hot Topics recognition for top 6% abstracts; 2013 Stephen Phillips Award for Basic Science at Dean's Summer Research Program (2/100+ applicants)]

2012 – 2016

Jesse Lawrence, BSc [Awards: 2014 ARVO Foundation Murray and Jeanie Johnstone Award for best glaucoma research; 2013 Dean’s Research Fellowship; Merit Award at Dean's Summer Research Program (11/100+ applicants)]

2011 – 2016

Swarupa Kancherla, MD (Award: 2015 ISMRM educational stipend award)

Undergraduate and Postbaccalaureate Students

2020 – present

Dominick Forlenza (Visiting student at Quinnipiac University, CT, USA)

2020 – present

Huy N. Pham (Visiting student at Williams College, Williamstown, MA, USA)

2020 – present

Eva Yarsky (Visiting student at The College of New Jersey/New Jersey Medical School, NJ, USA)

2020 – present

Rebecca Lee

2018 – Present

Jeannie Au

2017 – Present

Vivek Trivedi (2019 ISMRM Magna Cum Laude Award for top 15% abstracts; Award: 2018 ARVO Foundation/Knights Templar Eye Foundation Travel Grant)

2017 – Present

Wenyu Deng, BA (Last known position: Medical student, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, 2018 – present)

2019

Hana Song (Award: 2019 Carnegie Mellon University Summer Internship Experience Fund)

2018 – 2019

Crystal Liu (Award: 2019 Carnegie Mellon University Summer Internship Experience Fund)

2017

Antoinette Charles (2017 ABRCMS Student Travel Award; Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP), Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, NYU School of Medicine)

2017

Yue Chen (Visiting student at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China)

2016

William Kohler (Student researcher at Saint Vincent College, PA)

2016

John Gnalian (BioSc 1903 Undergraduate Research on Biological Sciences)

2016

Michael Krawchuk (Last known position: Postbaccalaureate at Johns Hopkins University; NroSci 1901 Independent Study on Neuroscience Research; ARTSC 0120 First Experiences in Research project)

2016

Katrina Tragakis (ArtSc 0120 First Experiences in Research project)

2014 – 2015

Jennifer Liu (BioSc 1903 Undergraduate Research on Biological Sciences)

2013 – 2014

Tyler Pirkle (BioEng 1002 Intramural Bioengineering Internship) (Award: 2013 Pitt BioE/Provost summer internship)

2012 – 2014

Zaid Safiullah, (Honors Thesis, and BioENG 1095 Special Bioengineering Research Projects) (Last known position: Medical student, University of Pittsburgh, 2015-present) [Awards: 2014 ARVO Foundation/National Eye Institute Travel Grant; 2013 Brackenridge Fellowship (60/200+ applicants)]

High School Students

2019 – Present

Elizabeth Vesialou (Staten Island Technical High School, Staten Island, NY)

2018 – Present

Patrick Paszkowski (Last known position: Undergraduate at Yale University)

2018 – Present

Anisha Kasi (Last known position: Undergraduate at Brown University)

2019

Devon J. Bonair (Last known position: Undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University)

2018 – 2019

Andrew Lee (Last known position: Undergraduate at Williams College)

2014 – 2015

Grace Jin (Last known position: Undergraduate at Yale University)

BMSC-GA 4482 Introduction to Research (Research Adventure), Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, NYU School of Medicine, NYU Langone Health, New York University

2019

Nora Herzog, Zhe Sun, Qiao Zhang

2018

Jonathan Feelemyer, Sheena Faye Garcia, Paige Leary, Patrick O’Neill, Nicholas Pantaleo, Amicha Robertson

Summer Trainees, Multimodal Neuroimaging Training Program, University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University (NIH R90DA023420 and T90DA022761)

2013

Andreas Hahn, PhD (Medical University of Vienna), Karen Nunley, BSc (University of Pittsburgh), Sephira Ryman, BSc (University of New Mexico), Indira Turney, BSc (Pennsylvania State University)

2012

Kaitlyn Litkofsky, BSc (Penn State University), Toshiki Tazoe, PhD (University of Pittsburgh)

Group portrait of research assistants.
Lab members