Currently, our lab is active in a number of research projects related to brain tumors, hypoxic ischemic injury in neonates, neurodegenerative diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and neuro-developmental disorders such as autism or OCD


Current projects include:

  • Tumors:

    • Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is one of the most aggressive and fatal brain cancer types a). Despite aggressive treatment strategies involving surgery, radiation, and cytotoxic chemotherapy, patients with recurrent glioblastoma have a median survival time of less than one year. Researchers have found that anti-angiogenic agents have shown some promise in prolonging and improving the quality of life for some of these patients. However, a significant portion of the patients does not respond. It is therefore imperative to identify these patients early enough to switch to different treatment options and to protect patients from potentially toxic and inefficacious treatments. Dr. Ratai has recently shown that MR spectroscopy can accurately predict patient survival by distinguishing between actual tumor response and pseudo-response. Future research could confirm the efficacy of Dr. Ratai’s methodology which could be implemented in clinical settings worldwide to improve the current standard of care using MRI.
  • Pediatric Neuroradiology:

    • Dr. Ratai’s research is helping to improve prognosis and diagnosis for patients as young as only a few days old. Hypoxic-ischemic brain injury is a major cause of perinatal mortality and morbidity. Because the prognosis for any given baby experiencing such injury is uncertain, reliable prognostic indicators are needed. Dr. Ratai and her team are evaluating the efficacy of combined MR Spectroscopy and diffusion-weighted imaging measurements in predicting outcomes in these neonates. Furthermore, using MR Spectroscopy, Dr. Ratai has been able to identify inborn errors of metabolism that could be behind the brain injury development.
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases:

    • Dr. Ratai is actively involved in several neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinocerebellar ataxias, adrenoleukodystrophy, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Dr. Ratai and her team use MR spectroscopy to develop advanced biomarkers for detection and diagnosis. For example, the research with ALS is focused on developing in vivo imaging biomarkers in patients to understand ALS etiology, to aid in early diagnosis, and to serve as a quick readout for dose-selection and molecular response of experimental treatments.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):

    • Dr. Ratai hopes to use MR Spectroscopy for noninvasive characterization of biochemical and cellular metabolic states in vivo in order to advance our understanding of ASD. By providing robust biomarkers that can be systematically measured, Dr. Ratai and her team hope to make sense of the complex interactions that cause ASD. Findings may lead to a clinical protocol using systemic markers as a pre-screen for targeted multimodal imaging for risk and diagnostic assessment.