Collaborating in Education
PhD program joins bioscience and engineering
Pictured in the anesthesiology research lab of Dr. Anthony Hudetz are (L-R): Kathleen Schmainda, PhD; Kristina Ropella, PhD, from Marquette; Dr. Hudetz; and graduate student Jeannette Vizuete. Dr. Schmainda and Dr. Ropella are Co-Directors of the joint PhD Program in Functional Imaging.
How do anesthetics produce loss of consciousness? This is the research focus of PhD candidate Jeannette Vizuete and her Medical College advisor Anthony Hudetz, PhD. They are studying the mechanisms of anesthesia and effects on brain function, which will lead to a better understanding of how anesthetics work and aid in the design of more specific, safer anesthetic drugs.
Jeannette’s research path is made possible through a PhD program in Functional Imaging jointly offered by the Medical College and Marquette University. Jeannette has two advisors: Dr. Hudetz, an anesthesiology investigator from the College, and Kristina Ropella, PhD, a biomedical engineer from Marquette. Students are enrolled at both schools and graduates receive one joint diploma from both institutions.
The PhD program builds upon a long history of collaboration between Marquette’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and Medical College faculty, joining the College’s strengths in biophysics and the neurosciences and Marquette’s strengths in bioengineering and mathematics. The program is designed to give students a competitive edge nationally by integrating experience in basic bioscience and applied engineering in studies related to the brain.
Functional imaging is uniquely suited for brain research as it can non-invasively view the brain at work. For more than 20 years, College faculty have been at the international forefront of advancing the field, most notably in 1992 when Medical College biophysics faculty were among the first three groups in the world to discover functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) for measuring brain function and developing fMRI technology. College investigators have long-standing research collaborations with the Jagiellonian University in Poland, as well as collaborations with two universities in China.
Dr. Hudetz’s laboratory at the College is known worldwide for studies of the mechanisms of anesthesia in the brain. Through their network of research collaborations, they brought the top minds in anesthesia research from 11 countries to Milwaukee for an international symposium in 2011.
Marquette’s faculty bring biomedical engineering expertise, including mathematical modeling and design of medical instrumentation. Their focus is to investigate medical problems, then develop engineering solutions for clinical use.
Together, Marquette and Medical College faculty are collaborating in applying functional imaging to diagnose and monitor patients with neurological disorders, such as brain tumors, stroke, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The results are improving clinical care, as well as enriching the PhD program for graduate students.
Dr. Hudetz is Professor of Anesthesiology, Physiology and Biophysics. Dr. Ropella is Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering at Marquette. Dr. Schmainda is Professor of Radiology and Biophysics.