“If a student stumps me on a question, that makes me feel great,” says Noseworthy.
“If I don’t know the answer, I know I have to get back to the books. It’s a two-way street and that’s the greatest thing about being a mentor.
“I know my students are ready to leave the nest when they start to teach me. When they teach me, they’re ready fly.”
Noseworthy and his research team are improving imaging technology to highlight specific areas of the brain and the body that are damaged or improperly functioning, and cannot be detected by a conventional clinical imaging methods such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). He builds new hardware and software, and uses a high-powered MRI scanner, one of only a few dozen in Canada, to have a more in-depth understanding of how the mind, brain and body work together to influence health and disease.
“Most people don’t realize we can do tons of things with an MRI, from measuring diffusion in the brain to looking at how blood flows through the tiniest blood vessels. There’s so much we can do with one machine,” says Noseworthy.
Noseworthy connects with physicians daily about the diagnostic problems they face at St. Joseph’s Healthcare. “An advantage of having my lab inside the hospital is I get to ask physicians about their problems and my team and I come up with solutions.”
When a physician asked Noseworthy if he could detect calcium in the body to better diagnose breast cancer using MRI imaging, one of his students stepped up to the challenge and discovered a method, which was published in 2009 in the scientific journal, “Medical Physics”. More recently, Noseworthy and his team have been developing methods to find damaged brain regions after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Their results were published in PLOS ONE in January, 2017.
Noseworthy is also working on new approaches to assess diseases using other imaging devices such as ultrasound. He hopes that by merging his technologies with modalities that are more economical and easier to transport and use, disease can be monitored more readily and cheaper. This could have significant impact for people living in third world countries who do not have access to high-quality diagnostics.