Prof. Anna Pichiecchio
The Advanced Imaging & Radiomics (AIR) Unit was established in 2020 to promote the development of skills and expertise in the field of neuroscience through the combined use of advanced diagnostic techniques and physical-mathematical-engineering-statistical post-processing methods.
Within this Unit, radiologists, neurologists, physicians, engineers, mathematicians and statisticians work together on specific research topics relating to the central and peripheral nervous systems and also relevant, for example, to the muscular system, the cerebrovascular system and the supra-aortic trunks.
The Unit works with two units:
The Unit is a national and international reference point among the centers of excellence making up Italy’s network of research hospitals (“IRCCS” institutes). In particular, it directs network projects and participates in “Current Research” (Ricerca Corrente) and “Targeted Research” (Ricerca Finalizzata) projects funded by the Italian Ministry of Health, and has numerous collaborations with other centers in Italy and worldwide, such as the University of Basel (Francesco Santini, Xeni Deligiann) and the University of California, San Francisco (Roland Henry, Nico Papinutto, Simone Sacco). Its present research projects deal with (among other things) diseases such as dementia, epilepsy, neuromuscular diseases, psychosis, migraine, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
The Unit, a leader in the standardization and harmonization of imaging data, is also part of the Neuroscience and Neurorehabilitation Network of “IRCCS” institutes, which is active in a number of fields, ranging from multiple sclerosis to neurodegenerative diseases. Another ongoing multicenter research project is the one with ACC (Alleanza contro il Cancro), the Italian organization for cancer research, in which the Unit is the group leader for the analysis of glioblastomas using radiomics techniques.
The Unit is also implementing a University of Pavia-funded “Summer School” on radiomics. This project, involving numerous Italian and international experts providing frontal teaching, but also practical workshops, aims to familiarize young researchers with these multidisciplinary advanced imaging data analysis techniques.
The AIR Unit, therefore, in addition to giving young researchers from different disciplines the opportunity to prepare degree theses in these clinical and technical fields, also offers openings for research doctorates and internships abroad.
Currently, in collaboration with the Department of Mathematics of the University of Pavia, Giulia Colelli and Leonardo Barzaghi are doing their PhD in “Computational Mathematics and Decision Sciences” at the AIR Unit on topics related to neuromuscular diseases. In particular, their activity focuses on the development of Machine Learning and Deep Learning algorithms for the prediction of quantitative biomarkers of neuromuscular diseases and for the automatic segmentation of muscles.
In addition, Eng. Laura Mazzocchi (biomedical engineering) conducts research on issues related to neurodegenerative and neuropediatric pathologies. The main goal is to early reveal correlations between neuroradiological and clinical data through structural and functional analyses of brain MRI.