Vanderbilt University
Institute of Imaging Science

Rachelle Crescenzi, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

Contact Information
(615) 322-8350


I am interested in developing noninvasive in vivo MRI techniques, which can be validated by complimentary biochemical and biophysical methods, as readouts of pathophysiology. In particular I'm interested in CEST, flow-dynamics, and sodium imaging techniques. I would like to focus on clinical imaging of women's health disorders during my post-doc research.


I am developing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) metrics that are sensitive to lymphedema, or swelling due to lymphatic impairment. One such type of lymphatic impairment results from lymph node removal during tumor-removal surgery in breast cancer patients. Other diseases of lymphatic impairment result from yet unknown causes, such as lipedema of the legs exclusively in women. Imaging the lymphatics in these diseases of the extremities requires adapting several functional contrasts, such as CEST and spin-labeling, to a novel tissue/region of the body, namely lymph fluid in the chest, arms and legs. These imaging metrics are being compared with external biophysical measurements: limb volume, tissue dielectric, and bioimpedance spectroscopy.

I work as part of a group of researchers and clinicians interested in using quantitative imaging and bed-side biophysical equipment to measure the benefits of physical therapy treatment for patients suffering from breast cancer related lymphedema.

I am also a recipient of a post-doc grant from the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) and Fat Disorders Research Society (FDRS), which aims to characterize internal lymphatic structural and functional differences in women with lipedema in distinction from those who are obese.

For the past six years my research has focused on novel molecular MRI techniques, which can be applied without exogenous contrast agents, and used to explore early metabolic changes associated with various diseases. As part of my thesis work, I developed chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) MRI sensitive to neuronal glutamate changes. I applied glutamate CEST imaging in the brains of mice with tauopathy. I showed to what extent glutamate CEST imaging could be used as a surrogate, in vivo measure of histological (synaptophysin, VGlut, GFAP, NeuN, NR1) markers of neurodegenerative diseases. Related projects in development during my post-doc include investigating neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease using CEST imaging techniques sensitive to glutamate.


Crescenzi, R., DeBrosse, C., Nanga, R.P.R., Reddy, S., Haris, M., Hariharan, H., Iba, M., Lee, V.M.Y., Detre, J. A, Borthakur, A., Reddy, R., 2014. In vivo measurement of glutamate loss is associated with synapse loss in a mouse model of tauopathy. Neuroimage 101, 185-92. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.06.067

Haris, M., Nath, K., Cai, K., Singh, A., Crescenzi, R., Kogan, F., Verma, G., Reddy, S., Hariharan, H., Melhem, E.R., Reddy, R., 2013. Imaging of glutamate neurotransmitter alterations in Alzheimer's disease. NMR Biomed. 26, 386-91. doi:10.1002/nbm.2875