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Funded Studies

Cross-disease Brain Image Modeling

Study Rationale:

Individuals with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases share typical brain image patterns. The research field has long awaited an intelligent system that could interpret patterns associated with different types of neurodegenerative diseases.


We hypothesize that Gaussian Process Regression (a statistical model) can be used to compare brain images and identify common features characterizing diseases.

Study Design:

Recently, my lab developed a model that won top place in the recent DREAM Alzheimer’s Disease Big Data Challenge, which aims to use brain images for disease diagnosis and establish a genetic model for predicting clinical outcomes. This competition, the most influential in the systems biology field, included groups that had over a hundred publications in brain image analysis. Our success in the challenge was due to development of our transformative feature identification and integrative method (customized Gaussian Process Regression) in analyzing brain images. In this proposed work, we will use this technique to investigate and compare brain images retrieved from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative and the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:

Our strategy aims to identify a series of brain regions that are predictive of clinical phenotypes and reveal shared and unique characteristics of the two diseases.

Next Steps for Development:

Our model may help quickly diagnosis Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s based on brain imaging.


  • Yuanfang Guan, PhD

    Ann Arbor, MI United States

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