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MRI Differential Diagnosis of Parkinsonism

We are studying patients with Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy, progressive supranuclear palsy and other forms of parkinsonism to develop MRI markers and signatures to differentiate them with high accuracy. We apply neuromelanin-sensitive and iron-sensitive MRI approaches developed by our group, in combination with other modalities to achieve this. 

Imaging Prodromal Synucleinopathy with MRI

Patients with REM sleep behavior disorder and no other neurological diagnosis, refered to as idiopathic RBD (iRBD), are at high risk of developing future synucleinopathy (Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, or multiple system atrophy). Identifying these diseases in their earliest stages is a key goal for the field, and may allow the development of treatments to delay or prevent these diseases. In pursuit of this goal, Dr. Huddleston is a member of the North American Prodromal Synucleinopathy (NAPS) Consortium. This is a group of 10 centers (and growing) developing a large multi-site cohort of patients with iRBD. Dr. Huddleston is Emory site PI for the NAPS Consortium and is leading MRI marker development for the consortium.

MRI Study of Lewy Body Dementias

The Lewy body dementias (LBDs), Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), are common yet often under-recognized conditions. They also lack adequate treatment and cause tremendous suffering for both patients and caregivers. To address this, we are studying patients with both PDD and DLB using multimodal MRI, detailed clinical characterization, and biosample collection. This work is supported by the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, The McMahon Family, and the Emory Lewy Body Dementia Research Center of Excellence (LBDA-RCOE). 

Emory Lewy Body Dementia

Research Center of Excellence

Dr. Huddleston is PI for the Emory LBDA-RCOE. This is a consortium of 25 centers across the nation devoted to developing a large cohort of patients with LBDs for biomarker studies and clinical trials. It forms a nexus for patients with LBDs to connect with research opportunities. We also help patients seeking care, and provide outreach to patients, caregivers and families. In addition to the MRI research described above, the Emory LBDA-RCOE is forming a support group for caregivers of patients with LBDs. Currently, we are partnering with Dr. Madeleine Hackney to connect patients with LBD and their caregivers with opportunities for aerobic exercise and dance interventions for these diseases.

Scalable Image Processing/Analysis Platform

To support our ambitious research goals we are developing a scalable database and image processing platform to carry out our methods rapidly at scale for multi-center studies. Together with expertise from collaborators in biomedical informatics and machine learning, we are developing a customized computing platform to support imaging research for parkinsonism and related diseases. A web-based portal interfacing with scalable image processing and analysis pipelines will support the use of our MRI methods at study sites around the globe. 

Support Our Research

Our research is driven by support from donors like you. Philanthropic gifts allow us to convert new ideas into discoveries. With this support we can take risks and develop larger research programs. Please help us move the field forward. Thank you!



NIH-NINDS 1K23NS105944-01A1 

MRI Signatures of Neuromelanin and Iron Pathology in Parkinsonism.

Role: Principal Investigator

The Michael J. Fox Foundation MJFF-010556

Comparative Neuroimaging Assessment of the Nigrostriatal System in Parkinson's Disease.

Role: Principal Investigator

NIH-NIA 1U19AG071754-01

North American Prodromal Synucleinopathy Consortium for RBD, Stage 2

Role:  Emory Site PI, Imaging Core-Lead, Project Co-Investigator

GRA Ventures Phase IB

Georgia Research Alliance

MRI diagnostic for Parkinson's disease.

Role: Principal Investigator


VA RR&D Merit Award – 1I01RX002967-01A2

Partnered dance aerobic exercise as a neuroprotective, motor and cognitive

intervention in Parkinson's disease.

Role: Co-Investigator

American Parkinson’s Disease Assoc. Center for Advanced Research (Emory)

MRI Markers of Neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s Disease Dementia.

Role: Principal Investigator


Emory Lewy Body Dementia Association Research Center of Excellence

Role: Principal Investigator

Emory Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center Pilot Award

NIH-NINDS P50-AG025688

MRI Study of Cerebellar, Pontine and Midbrain Pathology in Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

Role: Principal Investigator

Emory Roybal Center for Caregiving Mastery


Mechanisms of Enhancing Mastery via Health Education for Caregivers for Individuals with Lewy Body Dementias.

Role: Co-Investigator

American Parkinson's Disease Assoc. Center for Advanced Research (Emory)

Neuromelanin-sensitive MRI rodent model for Parkinson’s disease.

Role: Principal Investigator


Recently Completed

The Michael J. Fox Foundation MJF-10854

MJFF Improved Biomarkers and Clinical Outcome Measures

 Role: Co-Principal Investigator

NIH/NIA 1 R34 AG056639-02S1

Neuroprotective treatment trial planning in REM sleep behavior disorder.

Role: Project Co-Investigator and Emory Site Principal Investigator

Our research is also supported in part by generous donors. We gratefully acknowledge these gifts. We would like to specifically acknowledge the kindness and support that we receive from the McMahon Family.

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