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The Royal Academy of Engineering has awarded seven fellowships to engineering researchers whose projects have the potential to bring radical innovation to their fields. Dr Tom Okell is the recipient of one of the fellowships. He will benefit from financial support and mentoring for five years for his research into novel imaging techniques to visualise blood flow in the brain.

Non-invasive imaging techniques that show the blood flow to the brain are valuable tools, enabling doctors to make accurate diagnoses and plan interventions. Ideally, to reduce risks to the patient to an absolute minimum, these imaging techniques should use the least possible amount of ionising radiation or contrast agents.

Arterial spin labelling is a type of magnetic resonance imaging that fulfils these requirements and can be used to produce detailed maps of the brain tissues infused by blood (perfusion), and also to perform angiography, which shows the flow of blood within arteries.

Current methods that use this technique for detailed angiography are time-consuming and perfusion information must be obtained in a separate scan. With constraints on clinical scan times it is often not possible to perform both perfusion imaging and angiography in the same session, leaving the specialist with incomplete information.

Dr Okell is working to resolve this issue and to allow both measurements to be performed simultaneously. Treating angiography and perfusion not as separate techniques but as different windows on a continuous process, Dr Okell will develop the way the measurements are performed and recorded to simultaneously produce detailed results for both perfusion and angiography in a fraction of the time normally required. 

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