Brain MRI Image Analysis for an Ageing Population

This project is funded by the China Netherlands Joint Scientific Thematic Research Programme (JSTP), thematic focus “New Medical Devices for an Ageing Society”, grant number 116350001.
July 2012 – July 2018
Principal investigators: dr. Julien Miles, dr. Martijn van der Giessen, dr. Marius Staring

Societies in Europe and China are ageing rapidly. Consequently, the prevalence of degenerative diseases of the brain is becoming epidemic, creating an enormous burden to our societies from a human, healthcare, and economic perspective. Developing methods to detect these diseases at an early stage would help understanding their pathogenesis, which would improve changes of discovering new treatments. Imaging is a promising method for early detection of neurodegenerative diseases, and allows assessing structure and function of the brain in detail and non-invasively.

In this project we will develop image processing methods to classify patients into disease subgroups, methods to study the differences between those groups, methods to study individual anatomical change over time and to relate those changes to other patients.

From left to right, brain developmental trajectory over time. The top row shows the average development of a Mild Cognitively Impaired (MCI) group of patients that remained stable over time; The bottom row shows the trajectory of an MCI group that eventually developed Alzheimer’s disease. The two developmental trajectories are shown with respect to the same baseline image at the left. It can be seen that the structure in the red box (the hippocampus) develops more brain atrophy for the MCI convertor group.

Associated researchers

  • Marius Staring
  • Zhuo Sun
  • Yong Fan (Institute of Automation, Beijing, China)
  • Martijn van der Giessen (Philips Healthcare)


  1. Z. Sun, Y. Qiao, B.P.F. Lelieveldt and M. Staring, "Integrating Spatial-Anatomical Regularization and Structure Sparsity into SVM: Improving Interpretation of Alzheimer's Disease Classification," NeuroImage, vol. 178, pp. 445 - 460, September 2018.
  2. Z. Sun, M. van der Giessen, B.P.F. Lelieveldt and M. Staring, "Detection of conversion from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's disease using longitudinal brain MRI," Frontiers in Neuroinformatics, vol. 11, pp. 16, February 2017.
  3. Z. Sun, B.P.F. Lelieveldt and M. Staring, " Fast Linear Geodesic Shape Regression Using Coupled Logdemons Registration",  IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging (ISBI), pp. 1276 - 1279, April 2015.
  4. Zhuo Sun, Yong Fan, Boudewijn P. F. Lelieveldt, Martijn van de Giessen, Detection of Alzheimer’s disease using group lasso SVM-based region selection, SPIE Medical Imaging: Image Processing, Proceedings of SPIE, vol. 9414, pp. 941414, February 2015.