Excessive accumulation of iron occurs in patients with genetic hemochromatosis and in patients with transfusion dependent anemias such as thalassemia and sickle cell anemia. The body has very limited capabilities to remove iron. If left untreated, excess iron can result in complications such as liver and heart damage, growth failure, and premature death. Oral chelation agents are commonly used for treatment of iron overload. Chelators bind to excess iron and promote its excretion from the body. However, chelation therapy is extremely expensive and has side effects. The ability to accurately and longitudinally assess body iron content is critical for treatment monitoring, to avoid over/under-treatment to ensure that safe iron levels are maintained. We focus on the development and validation of novel techniques for quantification of iron deposition in tissue, particularly using emerging MRI techniques such as Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping (QSM). We also study the connection between microscopic iron deposition and macroscopic MRI signal behavior.
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