Rehabilitation Science alumna, Dr. Alison Barnard, research assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, received the Outstanding Publication Award for the publication, “MR biomarkers predict clinical function in Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” which comprised work from her dissertation and time as a PhD student .
The paper was published in Neurology in March, and it was nominated by Dr. Krista Vandenborne, Dr. Barnard’s PhD mentor, Dr. Sean Forbes, and Dr. Rebecca Willcocks, who shares first authorship with Dr. Barnard.
About the study: The ImagingDMD study is a longitudinal study designed to capture muscle changes over time in Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a progressive muscle degenerative disorder that affects boys and young men. The study uses magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy to noninvasively assess muscle health in an objective and reproducible manner.
In order for the magnetic resonance information (biomarkers) to be useful for clinicians and in clinical trials, we need to understand the relationship between the magnetic resonance biomarkers and how well a person with Duchenne muscular dystrophy is able to walk, move, and function. The data published in the Neurology manuscript was a comprehensive assessment of the relationship between the magnetic resonance muscle biomarkers and physical function using four years of longitudinal data from ImagingDMD. Researchers not only demonstrated the tight link between magnetic resonance biomarkers and function, but they also demonstrated that knowing an individual’s magnetic resonance muscle biomarkers can predict how they will function in the future.
These findings are an important component of supporting the use of muscle magnetic resonance biomarkers in clinical trials of novel therapies to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Dr. Barnard and the research team are excited the manuscript was accepted into the journal Neurology, as it is a high impact journal that is widely read by the muscular dystrophy community. This broad reach will help maximize the impact of their findings on further research for improved treatments and translation to clinical trials.