2023 Summer News

Director's Update

Dear colleagues, friends, and supporters,

I am delighted to share the latest news and accomplishments from the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center, where innovative research continues to drive advancements in the field of neuroimaging, all with the goal of helping people. 

First, we should note that BNAC has relocated to the University at Buffalo’s stunning Downtown Gateway Building at 77 Goodell Street. This new state-of-the-art facility is a dynamic environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, and scientific excellence. The move comes at a moment of growth for BNAC clinical trials and potentially game-changing acceleration in the value of assets and insight that, literally, have been years in the making.

In a recent Grand Rounds presentation to my UB colleagues and students, I introduced a new perspective on the convergence of research “workstreams” that are now advanced and integrated as never before. The title of my presentation summarizes this exciting progress: “Unlocking the Predictive Potential of Imaging Data in Multiple Sclerosis: A Translational Approach Using Large Databases, Synthetic MRI, and Artificial Intelligence.”

Today at BNAC, we are focused on translational research using our large databases and analytical insights in conjunction with the dramatic power of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Together, this convergence of data, technology, and analytics is unlocking the predictive potential of imaging in MS. It points not only to the future of synthetic MRI, but also to translational research that will dramatically impact clinical care, including our ability to predict and ultimately manage disability.

Put very simply: 1. We are constantly learning more about MS pathology. 2. We are harnessing 20 years of high-quality scans representing millions of useful data points for understanding disease and disability. 3. We are applying the exponential power of AI to turn a previously overwhelming trove of information into powerful new insights and hypotheses.

We call it IMPACT-AI®, which stands for Innovative MS Prognosis, Analysis, and Customized Treatment via Artificial Intelligence. It describes the powerful integration of our own exhaustive database of scans, the vast multi-center databases known as BUFFALO-MS, NeuroSTREAM, and many clinical trials we participated in as Core Lab, each elevated to unprecedented levels of utility and value through the application of AI.

We are on a path toward a goal to collect 100,000 MRIs from 10,000 MS patients and 1,000 controls, followed over almost two decades, and assessed with clinical, cognitive, imaging, and other biomarkers. In doing so, we can create the world’s most predictive models of neurodegeneration and disease progression on the individual patient level.

There is much work to be done. It is complex and demands extraordinary scientific rigor along with precious time and effort. Yet the result will be worth the investment: early detection and diagnosis, predicting disease progression, identifying new biomarkers, personalizing treatment plans, developing new therapies, and improving clinical trial design.

As we progress, this work becomes more patient-centered than ever. And thanks to our Advisory Council, led by Chairperson Larry Montani, BNAC researchers will remain focused on what’s most important to the people who suffer from neurological diseases and disorders: that our work is relevant, valid, and pursued with urgency. 

Over the last six months, members of our remarkable and talented team have published numerous papers and presented scores of posters and presentations at leading conferences including ACTRIMS, and ISMRM, and won recognition from respected organizations. More importantly, they have advanced our understanding of MS, imaging itself, and how all of this comes together to benefit mankind. I invite you to see some of those highlights below and to follow our progress in the future.

Thank you for your collaboration, your support, and your enduring interest.


Robert Zivadinov, MD, Ph.D.

A Message from

Advisory Council Chairperson, Larry Montani

We are pleased to report the success of our fundraising effort to raise the first $500,000 needed for the CASA-MS study. This campaign was spearheaded by the Advisory Council.

Thanks to a very generous $100,000 challenge grant from the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases, more than one hundred people contributed another $100,000 by year-end to meet the Funicello Fund goal. The $503,075 raised so

far is a very good start toward the overall goal of $1.5 million. On behalf of my co-chairs Tracie Jacquemin and Penny Pennington, I want to thank the Council and all the crowd-funders who reached out to their friends and family.

The campaign continues. We welcome gifts of any size. I encourage you to

read our crowd-funders’ moving stories about why they support this research

about progressive MS.

Support MS Research

Researcher Profile: Ferdinand Schweser, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Neurology, Radiology, and Biomedical Engineering at the University at Buffalo, Ferdinand Schweser, Ph.D., is a member of BNAC’s leadership team and continues to make significant contributions to the field of neuroimaging. His expertise lies in the MRI technique called quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) and its application in studying the relationship between brain iron and MS.

QSM measures the interactions between the strong magnetic field of an MRI and the iron present in brain tissues. This technique calculates the distribution of iron in the brain by analyzing the magnetization effect caused by iron as it reacts to MRI. Dr. Schweser has explored the method’s application in parallel with other brain components, such as myelin, for improved lesion characterization in MS...

Learn More About Dr. Schweser

Ferdinand Schweser, Ph.D.

Director of Sequence Development BNAC, and Associate Professor of Neurology, Radiology, and Biomedical Engineering at the University at Buffalo

New 3T MRI Scanner Acquired

The University at Buffalo Center of Biomedical Imaging acquired a state-of-the-art 3T machine, significantly bolstering our capacity for cutting-edge neuroimaging research. Weighing more than five tons, the scanner was hoisted by crane into the University at Buffalo Clinical and Translational Research building. This new addition is set to revolutionize the field, opening doors to unprecedented advancements in understanding the human brain and its complexities. “This scanner, among the most advanced available anywhere, puts UB in the forefront of translational imaging,” explains Dr. Zivadinov. 

The acquisition of the 3T machine marks a significant milestone in BNAC’s commitment to excellence in neuroimaging research. Stay tuned for updates on the groundbreaking studies and discoveries that will emerge from this powerful addition to our arsenal of scientific tools.

Dr. Robert Zivadinov Named

SUNY Distinguished Professor

Our director Robert Zivadinov, MD, Ph.D., has been recognized with the State University of New York (SUNY) system’s highest faculty honor: SUNY Distinguished Professor, for his exceptional contributions to the field. Dr. Zivadinov's commitment to teaching, his groundbreaking work in MRI imaging, and his expertise in MS and other neurological disorders have earned him global recognition. He has published more than 500 articles and 850 abstracts in leading peer-reviewed journals. His research, supported by grants exceeding $50 million, has advanced quantitative MRI analysis in neurodegenerative disorders, benefiting countless individuals worldwide.

Dr. Zivadinov has not only made significant scientific contributions but also nurtured the next generation of researchers. This recognition celebrates Dr. Zivadinov's unwavering commitment to improving lives and inspires us all to continue pushing the boundaries of knowledge in the field of neurological diseases.

Congratulations Dr. Zivadinov!

Read the Full Story

Student and Researcher Awards & Recognitions

Congratulations to the following BNAC researchers and students for their achievements and leadership…

  • Dr. Niels Bergsland, BNAC’s Integration Director, has been promoted to Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University at Buffalo. 
  • Drs. Dejan Jakimovski and Nicholas Young won first place in the University at Buffalo Medical School’s Research Symposium.
  • Leo Marecki, a PhD student mentored by Dr. Ferdinand Schweser, was named a finalist in the University at Buffalo’s Three Minute Thesis Competition.
  • Fahad Salman, a PhD student mentored by Dr. Ferdinand Schweser, received an ISMRM Magna Cum Laude Merit award this year for his abstract "Systematic assessment of published QSM inversion algorithms for detecting longitudinal changes in brain susceptibility."
  • Dr. Zivadinov was invited to present three presentations on Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Multiple Sclerosis at the Medforce Virtual Forum in February.
  • Dr. Schweser was invited to talk about “Imaging of iron in MS” at the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) Annual Meeting in Denver, CO.
  • Dr. Schweser was invited to give a talk entitled “Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping - Consensus & Clinical Applications” at the Philips International Application & Clinical Science Meeting (IACSM).
  • Saleha Mir, an undergraduate student mentored by Dr. Schweser, received a stipend from the Bauer Foundation for Women in Science and Engineering for her work in Dr. Schweser’s lab.
  • Ilyes Benslimane, a PhD student mentored by Dr. Schweser, has received the Beverly Petterson Bishop and Charles W. Bishop Neuroscience Travel Award.
  • Ilyes Benslimane, Fahad Salman, and Leo Marecki, PhD students mentored by Dr. Schweser, have received a Graduate Student Travel Award by the UB Office of Medical Education.
  • Leo Marecki, a PhD student mentored by Dr. Schweser, received an educational stipend from the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

Conferences & Key Publications

Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis

(ACTRIMS) Forum 2023


Use of AI and MRI for MS Care: How Does This Improve Care and Accessibility?

Dr. Michael Dwyer


  • Comprehensive Assessment of Severely Affected Multiple Sclerosis (CASA-MS) Study. Dr. Robert Zivadinov, Dr. Dejan Jakimovski, Dr. Michael Dwyer, Dr. Niels Bergsland, Dr. Ferdinand Schweser, et al.
  • Novel MRI Technique Reveals Subtypes of Paramagnetic Rim Lesions and Predicts 5-year Rim Disappearance. Dr. Dejan Jakimovski, Dr. Niels Bergsland, Dr. Michael Dwyer, Dr. Robert Zivadinov, Dr. Ferdinand Schweser, et al.
  • Using Machine Learning with Clinical Routine Imaging to Predict Disability Progression in Multiple Sclerosis. Alexander Bartnik - PhD candidate, Dr. Dejan Jakimovski, Dr. Robert Zivadinov, Dr. Michael Dwyer, et al.
  • Cortical Thickness and Cognitive Performance of Elderly with Multiple Sclerosis. Dr. Dejan Jakimovski, Dr. Robert Zivadinov, Dr. Michael Dwyer, Dr. Niels Bergsland, et al.
  • Cardiovascular Disease Diagnosis is Associated with Long-term Confirmed Disability Progression in Multiple Sclerosis. Dr. Dejan Jakimovski, Dr. Niels Bergsland, Dr. Michael Dwyer, Dr. Robert Zivadinov, et al.
  • Relationship Between Baseline Cognitive Performance and Brain Volume Outcomes in Patients With Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis in ENLIGHTEN: a Phase 3b Study of Ozanimod. Dr. Robert Zivadinov, et al.
  • Glial Cell Injury and MRI Measures of Chronic Multiple Sclerosis Inflammation. Dr. Dejan Jakimovski, Dr. Michael Dwyer, Dr. Niels Bergsland, Dr. Robert Zivadinov, et al.

A full list of ACTRIMS work is available here.

International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM)


  • Systematic Assessment of Published QSM Inversion Algorithms for Detecting Longitudinal Changes in Brain Susceptibility. Dr. Robert Zivadinov, Dr. Ferdinand Schweser

Digital Posters:

  • Conventional χ-separation Compared to Self-Calibrated Method (BIOPHYSICSS-DL) with Histological Validation. Dr. Robert Zivadinov, Dr. Ferdinand Schweser
  • Nonsusceptibility Frequency Contributions and Brain Size Affect Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping in a Region-Dependent Manner. Dr. Ferdinand Schweser

A full list of ISMRM work is available here.

BNAC In The News


"AI for MS Imaging Reveals Treatment Effects and Prognostic Phenotypes in Trials. Is It Ready for Clinical Practice?"

July 6, 2023

University of Sydney

“Multiple sclerosis global image database hits major milestones”

May 31, 2023

Neurology Live Podcast

“Severe Multiple Sclerosis and the CASA-MS Study”

April 21, 2023