Biomedical Magnetic Resonance Laboratory (BMRL)

Christopher Smyser

Contact Information
Washington University School of Medicine
Biomedical Magnetic Resonance Laboratory
Campus Box 8227
4525 Scott Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 747-1353

Current Position
Assistant Professor of Neurology
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Research Interests
Dr. Smyser is a practicing pediatric neurologist driven to provide optimal neurological outcomes for all infants at increased risk for neurodevelopmental disability. His research is built on training and work experience as a biomedical engineer. As a member of the Washington University Neonatal Developmental Research (WUNDER) Laboratory, his research focuses upon the application of advanced neuroimaging techniques, including functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), to the study of neonates in an effort to characterize development of the earliest functional and anatomic cerebral connections. His laboratory has overcome significant methodological challenges to successfully evaluate neonates using these modalities, including scan sequence specification, scanning of non-sedated infants, effects of small brain sizes on atlas registration and development of data processing streams. His group is now able to utilize these techniques to study a number of neonatal cohorts, including infants born prematurely, preterm infants with brain injury, infants with congenital heart disease and healthy, term-born infants. At this time, efforts are currently focused upon development of new analysis approaches for these data using applied mathematics, evaluation of new modalities that may provide improved mechanisms for bedside assessment of cerebral development and investigation of dietary interventions that may improve cerebral development. Importantly, all studied infants are also followed longitudinally, undergoing neurodevelopmental assessments during childhood in order to relate key childhood measures of development with neonatal imaging measures. This enables development of novel imaging biomarkers which may inform early, targeted therapies in pre-symptomatic infants while augmenting future, large-scale trials evaluating neuroprotective strategies designed to improve cerebral connectivity. The result of these efforts is new insight into human brain development, providing a platform for future investigation dedicated to improving neurodevelopmental outcomes for infants at increased risk for disabilities.

Key Publications

  1. Smyser C, Grabowski TJ, Frank RJ, Haller J, Bolinger L. A time-aware architecture for parametric analysis of fMRI data. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 2001; 45(2):289-298.
  2. Smyser C, Grabowski TJ, Rainville P, Bechara A, Razavi M, Mehta S, Eaton BL, Bolinger L. Measurement, time-stamping, and analysis of electrodermal activity in fMRI. Proceedings of the International Society of Optical Engineering (SPIE) 2002; 4683:470-475.
  3. Smyser CD, Inder TE, Shimony JS, Hill JE, Degnan AJ, Snyder AZ, Neil JJ. Longitudinal analysis of neural network development in preterm infants. Cerebral Cortex 2010; 20(12):2852-2862. PMCID: PMC2978240.
  4. Smyser CD, Inder TE. “50 years ago in The Journal of Pediatrics: A familial convulsive disorder with an unusual onset during intrauterine life.” The Journal of Pediatrics 2010; 156(5):809.
  5. Smyser CD, Snyder AZ, Neil JJ. Functional connectivity MRI in infants: Exploration of the functional organization of the developing brain. NeuroImage 2011; 56(3):1437-1452. PMCID: PMC3089442.
  6. Mirzaa GM, Paciorkowski AR, Smyser CD, Willing MC, Lind A, Dobyns WB. The microcephaly-capillary malformation syndrome. American Journal of Medical Genetics 2011; 155(9):2080-7. PMCID: PMC3428374.
  7. Smith GC, Gutovich J, Smyser CD, Pineda R, Newnham C, Tjoeng TH, Vavasseur C, Wallendorf M, Neil JJ, Inder TE. Impact of stress in the NICU on brain development in preterm infants. Annals of Neurology 2011; 70(4):541-549.
  8. Smyser CD, Kidokoro H, Inder TE. “MRI of the brain at term equivalent age in extremely premature neonates – to scan or not to scan?” Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 2012; 48(9):794-800. PMCID: PMC3595093
  9. Smyser CD, Inder TE. “Protecting the preterm brain.” Acquired Brain Injury in the Fetus and Newborn 2012; London, UK: MacKeith Press.
  10. Lee M, Smyser CD, Shimony JS. Resting state fMRI: A review of methods and clinical applications. American Journal of Neuroradiology 2013; 34(10):1866-72. PMC Journal – In Process.
  11. McDonnell LM, et al. Mutations in STAMBP, encoding a deubiquitinating enzyme, cause microcephaly-capillary malformation syndrome. Nature Genetics 2013; 45(5):556-62.
  12. Smyser CD, Snyder AZ, Shimony JS, Blazey TM, Inder TE, Neil JJ. Effects of white matter injury on resting state fMRI measures in prematurely-born infants. PLoS One 2013; 8(7):e68098. PMCID: PMC3706620
  13. Ortinau CM, Inder TE, Smyser CD. “Predictive value of neonatal magnetic resonance imaging in preterm infants.” NeoReviews 2013; 14(10):e490-500.
  14. Anderson JL, Levy PT, Leonard KB, Smyser CD, Tychsen L, Cole FS. “Congenital lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus: when to consider the diagnosis. Journal of Child Neurology 2013; 2013 May 10 [Epub ahead of print].
  15. Pineda RG, Neil JJ, Dierker D, Smyser CD, Wallendorf M, Kidokoro H, Reynolds LC, Walker S, Rogers CE, Mathur AM, Van Essen DC, Inder TE.  Alterations in brain structure and neurodevelopmental outcome in preterm infants hospitalized in different neonatal intensive care unit environments. Journal of Pediatrics 2014; 164(1):52-60.
  16. Al-Kateb H, Khanna G, Filges I, Grange DK, Smyser CD, Kulkarni S, Shinawi M. “Scoliosis and Vertebral Anomalies: Additional Abnormal Phenotypes Associated with Chromosome 16p11.2 Rearrangement” American Journal of Medical Genetics 2014; 2014 Jan 23 [Epub ahead of print].
  17. Estep ME, Smyser CD, Anderson PJ, Ortinau CM, Wallendorf M, Katzman CS, Doyle LW, Thompson DK, Neil JJ, Inder TE, Shimony JS. “Diffusion Tractography and Neuromotor Outcome in Very Preterm Children with White Matter Abnormalities.” Pediatric Research 2014; (in press).

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For an up-to-date list of Dr. Smyser's publications please see his entry on PubMed.