Adrienne Dula, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Neurology, Dell Medical School

Research Summary:

Women have more severe deficits at onset and worse clinical outcomes from ischemic stroke than men. Sex differences in response to stroke therapies have been suggested, but the literature is inconsistent. Although severity of deficits and disability after stroke is often worse for women, women are more likely to survive. It is clear that more research is necessary to shed light on this complex relationship. Surprisingly little is known about sex differences in blood vessels and blood flow in stroke patients or how they influence differences in stroke severity and outcome.

There are well known blood flow measurements on imaging that predict clinical severity and outcome from stroke. These biological predictors are measurable and have been defined and validated by modern clinical imaging methods. Specifically, neuroimaging can objectively identify potential therapeutic targets. Also, imaging measures are typically reflective clinical observations. Time is of essence in treatment of stroke since there exists a transition of threatened but viable brain (ischemic penumbra) into irreversible core of injury. Due to this, fast and accurate measurement of not only the definite injury but also the tissue at risk is imperative.

We are working on patient studies to directly relate these imaging factors to observed sex differences in severity and outcomes. We will identify those factors that differentiate men and women using analysis of existing data from the Austin area as well as other databases from our collaborators. We will then prospectively test whether these features predict differences in initial clinical severity, 90-day clinical outcome, and response to therapy.

We are also working to create a neuroimaging repository of acute stroke clinical and imaging data acquired in a standardized manner within the Lone Star Stroke Research Consortium in concert with development of robust image processing pipelines. These imaging and clinical data will allow evaluation at the population level to enable inter-subject comparison and geometric characterization of complex factors impacting the unique stroke risk and severity present in women.


My training has focused on the application of fundamental engineering principles to solve quantitative physical problems, particularly using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). I have an extensive background in development and application of advanced magnetic resonance neuroimaging methods and I am interested in translational techniques with the ability to relay specific information on tissue anatomy, microstructure, or biochemistry that can be implemented in the clinic.

Collaborative Interests:

My goal is to establish a pipeline for translation of imaging methods for assessment and prognosis of patients whether in the clinic or in clinical trials. I am not the typical engineering type and love working with groups and “clinical teaming” to solve biomedical problems. I would enjoy collaborations that help establish the knowledge breadth necessary to drive curiosity in the field of stroke research as well as those that allow me to apply my imaging expertise to help solve clinical questions.

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