Dr. Shannon Kolind


B.Sc. [Physics (honours with distinction)], University of Victoria
M.Sc. [Physics], University of British Columbia
Ph.D. [Physics], University of British Columbia
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology, University of British Columbia
Associate Member, Department of Radiology, University of British Columbia
Associate Member, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia
Investigator, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, University of British Columbia
Co-Director, MS/MRI Research Group,University of British Columbia


Research Interests

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Dr. Shannon Kolind earned her PhD in Physics at UBC developing myelin water imaging and its application to the study of multiple sclerosis (MS). She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain (FMRIB) at the University of Oxford as well as the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. While in the UK, she specialised in developing new methods to image myelin using MRI, and making them more practical for use in research. She then returned to UBC, this time in the Division of Neurology, to become an Assistant Professor. Shannon’s lab is focused on developing a toolbox of tissue-specific imaging techniques. Her multi-disciplinary team employs these multi-modal tools to achieving greater sensitivity and specificity in clinical research; particularly for clinical trials of new therapies.

Major Findings:

Understanding and interpreting advanced MRI measures: Shannon’s research has helped improve understanding of quantitative imaging techniques and the underlying biology to which they are sensitive. This work has included comparisons between myelin water imaging, diffusion tensor imaging, magnetisation transfer imaging, and spectroscopy, as well as non-MRI techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and positron emission tomography (PET).
Development of myelin water imaging for spinal cord: Recent work with Shannon’s graduate and honours students has focused on developing and optimising MRI acquisition protocols for quantitative myelin water imaging in spinal cord in clinically feasible scan times. This has been performed in healthy controls as well as various clinical cases. Spinal cord myelin water imaging will improve understanding of a wide range of neurological diseases, injuries, and developmental disorders in the spine.
Understanding myelin changes in disease progression: Myelin water imaging in both brain and spinal cord of primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) revealed significant correlations between myelin measurements and clinical eloquent disability scores. These results highlighted the potential of myelin water imaging as a biomarker of progression that could be used for clinical trials as well as research studies. A current operating grant from the MS society of Canada is allowing Shannon’s group to further explore this possibility within a much larger population and following participants over time.
Application to clinical trials of new therapies: Promising preliminary results have led to interest from pharmaceutical companies in conducting sub-studies of advanced imaging measures such as myelin water imaging in clinical trials of new therapies for diseases such as MS and neuromyelitis optica. Shannon’s group has demonstrated treatment effects on myelin water measurements in groups of less than 50 participants, providing further evidence of the efficacy of treatment as well as improved understanding of the underlying changes driving clinical improvement.

Techniques employed in the labs:

  • Quantitative MRI
  • Conventional MRI
  • PET
  • TMS
  • Cognitive testing
  • Data analysis technique development

Affiliation with organizations and societies:

  • International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM)
  • American Academy of Neurology (AAN)
  • North American Imaging in Multiple Sclerosis Consortium (NAIMS)


Some of Dr. Kolind’s recent major awards and accomplishments include:

  • Principal Investigator, Operating Grant (Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, 2017-2020)

Current Lab Members:

Masters Students Ph.D. Students Research Staff
Lisa Eunyoung Lee Shawna Abel
Emilie Nevill
Adam Dvorak Anna Combes (King’s College London) Heather Yong
Emil Ljungberg (King’s College London) Irene Vavasour

Trainee Awards

Year Trainee Award
2017 Lisa Eunyoung Lee Vancouver Korean-Canadian Scholarship
2017 Emilie Russell Travel Award (European Committee for Treatment & Research in Multiple Sclerosis)
2017 Emil Ljungberg Poster Finalist (International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine)
2017 Emil Ljungberg Travel Award (International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine)
2017 Lisa Eunyoung Lee Travel Award (International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine)
 2017 Dayna Ortner Travel Award (International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine)
 2017 Anna Combes  Travel Award (International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine)
 2017 Anna Combes  Travel Award (Guarantors of Brain)
 2017  Lisa Eunyoung Lee  Travel Award (Workshop on Quantitative MRI in White Matter Disorders)
2016 Anna Combes Poster Award First Place (International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine)


Recent publications

  • Vavasour, IM et al.. 2018. A 24-month advanced magnetic resonance imaging study of multiple sclerosis patients treated with alemtuzumab.. Mult. Scler. doi: 10.1177/1352458518770085.
  • Yoo, Y et al.. 2018. Deep learning of joint myelin and T1w MRI features in normal-appearing brain tissue to distinguish between multiple sclerosis patients and healthy controls.. Neuroimage Clin. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2017.10.015.
  • Ljungberg, E et al.. 2017. Rapid myelin water imaging in human cervical spinal cord.. Magn Reson Med. doi: 10.1002/mrm.26551.
  • Vavasour, IM et al.. 2017. Global loss of myelin water over 5 years in multiple sclerosis normal-appearing white matter.. Mult. Scler. doi: 10.1177/1352458517723717.
  • Combes, AJE et al.. 2017. Cervical cord myelin water imaging shows degenerative changes over one year in multiple sclerosis but not neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder.. Neuroimage Clin. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2017.06.019.
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