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Professor Mara Cercignani

Prof Mara Cercignani

Professor Mara Cercignani (PhD)

Academic Director of Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre (CISC)
T: +44 (0)1273 877879
Location: Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre, Room 3, University of Sussex, BN1 9RR

DA: Pat Butler
T: +44 (0)1273 876768

Area of expertise: Quantitative MRI

Research areas: Imaging; neuroscience

Other relevant positions: Chair in Medical Physics


Professor Mara Cercignani studied Telecommunication Engineering at the Politecnico of Milan, before completing an MPhil in MRI at Leicester University. She then returned to Italy, where she worked at the Neuroimaging Research Unit, at the Research Hospital San Raffaele, in Milan. In 2002, Mara moved to London, to work at UCL, Institute of Neurology, where she completed her PhD in quantitative MRI.

By 2007, when she moved to Rome to work at the Neuroimaging Laboratory of Santa Lucia Foundation, she had established herself in the field of quantitative MRI, and particularly in diffusion and magnetization transfer MRI. Mara moved to BSMS in 2011 as the Chair in Medical Physics. In 2012 she took on the role of Academic Director of CISC.


Mara is based at the Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre (CISC) of BSMS, where she leads the MRI Physics group. Her research focuses on quantitative MRI, i.e., on non-invasive techniques, based on medical imaging, able to measure intrinsic properties of tissue. Examples include diffusion MRI, which probes the miscroscopic motion of water molecules within tissue, thus providing information about the size, structure and orientation of white matter fibres; and magnetization transfer MRI, which quantifies the amount of lipid-proteins (such as myelin in the brain). Mara is interested in all aspects of quantitative MRI, from modelling of signal to sequence design and image processing, with the specific aim of translating physics development into clinical applications. She works closely with clinical academics primarily in the fields of Neurology and Psychiatry.


Mara teaches part of the “Physics and Anatomy” module of the MSc in Imaging and Radiology.

Selected publications

Challis E, Hurley P, Serra L, Bozzali M, Oliver S, Cercignani M. Gaussian process classification of Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment from resting-state fMRI. NeuroImage. 2015;112:232-243.

Turati L, Moscatelli M, Mastropietro A, Dowell N, Zucca I, Erbetta A et al. In vivo quantitative magnetization transfer imaging correlates with histology during de- and remyelination in cuprizone-treated mice. NMR in Biomedicine. 2015;28(3):327-337.

Harrison N, Cooper E, Dowell N, Keramida G, Voon V, Critchley H et al. Quantitative Magnetization Transfer Imaging as a Biomarker for Effects of Systemic Inflammation on the Brain. Biological Psychiatry. 2015;78(1):49-57.

Mastropasqua C, Bozzali M, Spanò B, Koch G, Cercignani M. Functional Anatomy of the Thalamus as a Model of Integrated Structural and Functional Connectivity of the Human Brain In Vivo. Brain Topogr. 2014;28(4):548-558.

Koch G, Bozzali M, Bonnì S, Giacobbe V, Caltagirone C, Cercignani M. fMRI Resting Slow Fluctuations Correlate with the Activity of Fast Cortico-Cortical Physiological Connections. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(12):e52660.

Bueti D, Lasaponara S, Cercignani M, Macaluso E. Learning about Time: Plastic Changes and Interindividual Brain Differences. Neuron. 2012;75(4):725-737.

Bozzali M, Parker G, Spanò B, Serra L, Giulietti G, Perri R et al. Brain tissue modifications induced by cholinergic therapy in Alzheimer's disease. Human Brain Mapping. 2012;34(12):3158-3167.

Giulietti G, Bozzali M, Figura V, Spanò B, Perri R, Marra C et al. Quantitative magnetization transfer provides information complementary to grey matter atrophy in Alzheimer's disease brains. NeuroImage. 2012;59(2):1114-1122.

Koch G, Cercignani M, Bonni S, Giacobbe V, Bucchi G, Versace V et al. Asymmetry of Parietal Interhemispheric Connections in Humans. Journal of Neuroscience. 2011;31(24):8967-8975.

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