Neuroimaging and biostatistics laboratory

 BIND lab:

The laboratory of Brain Imaging, Networks, and Data mining (BIND), directed by Dr. Giulio Pergola, exists to bind the biological layers that are the foundation of our brain and behavior. The core question we ask is what drives differences between individuals that are relevant to mental well-being. We are interested in variation between healthy individuals, between people at risk for psychiatric disorders who do or do not develop an illness, and in variability between patients in terms of risk factors, illness course, and treatment response.

 

Our approach is to combine data mining of transcriptomic and genomic datasets with neuroimaging, behavioral, and clinical variables generating hypotheses that relate multiple biological layers with each other. We have been the first to develop co-expression Quantitative Trait Loci (co-eQTLs) and to combine them with a novel algorithm that weighs alleles independently of allelic dosage into Polygenic Co-expression Indices. We have shown that co-expression predictions are associated with replicable neuroimaging signatures and contribute to clinical measures such as treatment response to antipsychotics in a way that differs from polygenic risk scores. Further, we have investigated how genetic, environmental, and clinical risk for schizophrenia relates with brain structure, functional outcome, and cognition both in healthy individuals and in patients with various diagnoses.

 

BIND gathers researchers with diverse expertise in the field of imaging genetics, including biologists, biotechnologists, residents in Psychiatry, and psychologists. This ensemble of backgrounds reflects the high interdisciplinarity of our field, with some researchers specialized in neuroimaging, and others working on computational genetics and biostatistics. We welcome students from all fields of neuroscience who are passionate about the inner workings of the human brain and want to discover what makes us who we are.



Facilities

 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging: the Psychiatric Neuroscience Group has been collaborating with the Neuroradiology Department in the Ospedale Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy) for about two decades, collecting functional and structural scans from over 1000 subjects. The hospital has acquired a new Philips 3T scanner in 2016, which also enables the collection of high-resolution diffusion tensor imaging and arterial spin labeling data, besides multi-echo functional sequences.

 

Magnetoencephalography: UNIBA hosts one of the two laboratories of magnetoencephalography in southern Italy featuring an advanced recording system (Elekta TRIUX). The laboratory has been installed in October 2016 and is currently used by the Institutes of Neurology and Psychiatry to study multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, at risk mental state, and healthy developmental cognitive trajectories.

 

Computational tools: the laboratory of data mining uses multi-core workstations and a local server for most of the data mining work. High performance parallel computing facilities are available via the Bari PRISMA cloud Open Source software platform. This is one of the largest computational data centers in Italy, with about 12,000 CPU/Core and 6.6 Petabyte of storage.


Pubblicato il: 05/04/2018  Ultima modifica: 13/05/2021