Health, Science & Technology


Stroke Prediction Biomarker through ocular blood flow using Laser Speckle Flowgraphy

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA
New Tech To Making Eye Checks A Breeze
Currently a PhD student at Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP), Aishah Ismail is working on a combination field of biomedical and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Aishah’s research focuses on two main areas. Firstly, she develops a small animal stenosis model in rabbits, encompassing surgical techniques, anesthesia, neurological behavior assessment, and overall well-being considerations. Secondly, she conducts an analysis of ocular blood flow (OBF) using Laser Speckle Flowgraphy, quantifying OBF through image analysis of speckle pattern changes captured continuously.
Turning heartbreak into a medical breakthrough
Aisha’s research was sparked by the heartbreak of seeing pets under her care develop stroke symptoms. The choice of the right animal for the model is crucial for reliability and translatability to higher purposes in animal model studies.
Aishah explains, “The research I'm doing now hopes to help detect and save millions from the perils of stroke. I chose rabbit because rabbits' eyes are large, and the animal's anatomy bears close similarities to that of humans. It's called the Circle of Willis, a blood circulation pathway from the neck to the brain. Besides this, rabbits' retinal vessels share similar properties with the human brain's blood vessels." 
It’s all in the eyes
By studying the eyes of rabbits, Aishah aims to identify a biomarker indicative of an early stroke, a disease which, according to Aishah, is the third-leading cause of death and leaves many survivors disabled. This enables the implementation of timely preventive measures and treatment.
For her study, Laser Speckle Flowgraphy was used as a non-invasive imaging modality that captures optic nerve head images in a sequence manner within 4 seconds. This modality quantifies the ocular blood flow (OBF) changes in optic nerve through the speckle pattern changes in accordance to the movement of blood cell movement among the frame sequences.
On her research, Aishah explains, “Basically, it is an eye scan where the patient or subject just places their chin on the holder and we capture the optic nerve head images. It only takes 4 seconds, without the need for exposure to a light flash or a pupil dilator typically used in fundus examinations that can leave the patient with impaired vision for the next 12 hours, which normally dissuades elderly patients from getting their eye checked.”

Curiosity and collaboration across continents
Since arriving at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, Aishah has experienced MIT's supportive learning environment and world-class facilities. Aishah remembers finding it refreshing to discover that the university truly values curiosity, a quality she believes is quite distinct from the cultural approach to learning in Malaysia.
Aishah highlights the collaborative nature of independent universities, where sharing resources and data among PhD students is common to gather diverse perspectives on challenging problems. Overall, her experience at MIT reflects the benefits of career-connected learning and industry collaboration promoted by her current school, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP).

The information in this award recipient's profile is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the time the award was presented. Any subsequent changes, updates, or developments in the individual's life or achievements may not be reflected in this profile.

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