Schulich school of Medicine and Dentistry logo Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry

Front and Centre

Sarah Svenningsen holding up a copy of the Thorax.

Sarah Svenningsen, PhD Candidate, Department of Medical Biophysics recently had work featured on the cover of the journal, Thorax.

“It was a great accomplishment for our work to be published in the second highest impact factor respiratory medicine journal. For the work to be featured on the cover is very exciting for me and our respiratory imaging research team,” Svenningsen said. “I think this is a huge breakthrough for us.”

Working under the supervision of Grace Parraga, PhD, Robarts Research Institute, Svenningsen’s work used hyperpolarized helium MRI to show ventilation defects in patients with asthma. The research demonstrated that subsegmental defects were present in two thirds of patients and were shown to be associated with decreased lung function, airway inflammation and greater airway wall thickening.  

The research not only supports the use of hyperpolarized helium MRI to guide diagnosis and treatment for asthmatic patients, but also provides us with a better picture of the underlying structural and clinical determinants of asthma.

“It is obviously a very common disease, however, despite its prevalence there have been very few recent advancements in disease understanding and treatments,” Svenningsen said.  

She strongly believes that imaging, which has revealed that asthma is a regionally heterogeneous disease, provides novel information that may change the way asthma is currently treated. Specifically, moving away from global whole lung treatments and towards targeted image guided interventions.