The neonatal brain is particularly vulnerable to the biological consequences of prematurity, to birth asphyxia, congenital heart disease and other neonatal metabolic disorders. Brain injury and altered or delayed brain development in the neonatal period are associated with devastating neurodevelopmental consequences such as significant cognitive, motor, language and behavioural disabilities. Although mortality rates have decreased due to advances in clinical care, neurodevelopmental deficits have emerged as the most significant co-morbidity.
My research program will develop new bedside non-invasive imaging methods to screen for brain injury, assess response to therapy and predict long-term outcomes in at-risk neonates. My program aims at detecting vulnerable newborns that would benefit from early preventive therapy.
My approach consists of improving current bedside monitoring by reducing data acquisition time thus allowing realtime interpretation of the results by the clinician. It consists of measuring direct information on brain health of newborns at the bedside to avoid transporting them outside their safe care environment, as it is currently performed with magnetic resonance imaging exam. My scientific and medical team is composed of biomedical scientists, cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, neonatologists, neurologists, radiologists and nurses who will work together to evaluate several aspects of brain health.
Compared to existing techniques, my approach is innovative and unique because it allows the evaluation of brain health at the bedside by providing accurate information on the amount of oxygen delivered and consumed by neurons. Current techniques do not provide direct information on brain oxygen metabolism non-invasively and are limited to specific populations.
Non-invasive optical technology is really the future for critical care in paediatrics. By focusing on preventing and minimizing the impact of brain injury early in life, I expect that my method will improve quality of life in these infants and their parents.