Due to an unprecedented public-private partnership, MRI technology has recently become available in Malawi for research, clinical and educational purposes. The lack of normative data is proving a major barrier to the use of MRI in this environment. The Malawi-MSU MRI Research Project will recruit a community-based, representative sample of Malawian children for clinical and brain MRI evaluations to develop normative data for CNS images in the Malawian population. Study subjects will also be screened for a history of antenatal, traumatic, infectious, or environmental exposures common in Malawi which may be risk factors for CNS injuries. The association between specific potential risk factors and specific, as well as non-specific structural abnormalities will be assessed. Findings from this epidemiologic assessment will provide insights into the burden and nature of unrecognized neurologic disability and disease in Malawi and possible etiologies for these conditions. During the conduct of this work, a customized, web compatible software program (NeuroInterp) designed to allow radiologists to provide brain MRI interpretations in a systematic, quantifiable format will be fully developed and implemented. Training for MRI technicians in Malawi will be enhanced and support provided for the continued development of academic radiology in this resource limited setting.

Public Health Relevance

Narrative Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has recently become available in Malawi--the first time such advanced imaging technology has been accessible for teaching, education and research in a sub-Saharan African region. The Malawi-MSU MRI research project will obtain brain MRIs from a community-based population of Malawian children to establish the range of structural abnormalities evident in this never-before-studied population since this information is needed to effectively use MRI technology in the sub-Saharan African region. Through MRI reviews and clinical assessments, the project will evaluate the nature of neurologic injuries and their potential etiologies in this vulnerable population.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-ICP2-B (51))
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Odenkirchen, Joanne
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Michigan State University
Schools of Medicine
East Lansing
United States
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Potchen, Michael J; Kampondeni, Sam D; Ibrahim, Khalid et al. (2013) NeuroInterp: a method for facilitating neuroimaging research on cerebral malaria. Neurology 81:585-8
Potchen, M J; Kampondeni, S D; Mallewa, M et al. (2013) Brain imaging in normal kids: a community-based MRI study in Malawian children. Trop Med Int Health 18:398-402
Potchen, M J; Kampondeni, S D; Seydel, K B et al. (2012) Acute brain MRI findings in 120 Malawian children with cerebral malaria: new insights into an ancient disease. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 33:1740-6