Dr Silvia De Santis

Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow

Research group:
029 206 88759
CUBRIC, Maindy Road

Research summary

My principal research interest is the use of advanced (i.e., beyond the diffusion tensor) diffusion MRI techniques to explore the local microstructure. I have experience in investigating the biological substrates underpinning diffusion-weighted contrast in a variety of different environments, ranging from porous material to human white matter.

Currently, I am a postdoctoral fellow under the Sir Henry Wellcome scheme of the Wellcome Trust. My project, called MIND – Modelling and Imaging using Non-gaussian Diffusion, aims at developing translational research (from biophysical modelling to clinic) to take full advantage of the information given by water diffusion in the brain, in order to obtain a deeper understanding of brain tissue microstructure and to translate this new information to clinical neuroscience.

The project involves different stages in different laboratories. At the moment, I am working in Maastricht in the laboratory of Prof. A. Roebroeck and in Cardiff with Prof. D. K. Jones.

Selected publications (2014 onwards)


Full list of publications


Media activities

In 2012, I have co-organised (together with Prof. Derek Jones) the art exhibition "Tractology" combining art and neuroscience, in collaboration with the local artist Phil Lambert. Later in the same year, I took part to the Cardiff Science Festival exhibiting the work “Massive Dynamic; Exploring and Recreating Cutting-Edge Neuroscience” (http://www.massivedynamicart.com/) in collaboration with the local artist Penelope Rose-Cowley.


Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2012-2016 MIND – Modelling and Imaging using Non-Gaussian Diffusion. £250000.

Wellcome Trust ISSF mobility award 2016 Grant for prolonging research trips between Cardiff and the Institute of Neuroscience of Alicante. £3000.

FPN-MBIC Funding for MR-based research using Scannexus facilities, 2014-2015 Grant for using the 7T MRI facility in Maastricht University to accomplish the project: Combining inversion recovery and diffusion in vivo at 7T to resolve myelin and axonal properties within the same voxel. €14000.

Guarantors of Brain Travel Grant, 2011 Travel grant to attend the White Matter Study Group International Workshop on Advanced White Matter Imaging, 22- 26 August 2011, Reykjavik, Iceland. £500.

University of Rome Travel Grant, June 2010 – September 2010 Travel grant to spend part of the PhD in Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, Cardiff, UK. Approx €1,500.

University of Rome PhD Studentship, 2007-2010 Three-year maintenance and fees grant awarded by the Physics department of University of Rome ‘Sapienza’ (only 10 PhD students per year). Approx €45,000.

UCL Summer Student Fellowship, University College of London, London, UK, 2006Collaborator in the project ‘Nanoscopic structure of bilayered manganites’ under the supervision of Prof. G. Aeppli. Approx £3,000.

Research collaborators

Prof Derek K Jones, Cardiff University

Prof Yaniv Assaf, Tel Aviv University

Prof. Alard Roebroeck, Maastricht University

Prof. Santiago Aja-Fernandez, University of Valladolid

Prof. Santiago Canals, Instituto de Neurociencia de Alicante

Prof. Nicola Toschi, Policlinico Tor Vergata, Roma

Dr. Miriam Cooper, Cardiff University

Undergraduate education

Jun 2005: B.Sc. in Biophysics, University of Rome ‘Sapienza’, Rome, Italy
Jul 2007: M.Sc. in Physics, University of Rome ‘Sapienza’, Rome, Italy

Postgraduate education

Feb 2011: Ph.D. in Physics, University of Rome ‘Sapienza’, Rome, Italy

Awards/External Committees

ISMRM Merit Award Summa cum Laude 2015 & Diffusion study group finalist 2015
for the abstract Assessing Diffusion Time Effects on Microstructural Compartment Estimates in Human White Matter using 7T dw-STEAM

ISMRM Merit Award Summa cum Laude 2015 & White matter study group finalist 2015
for the abstract Inversion Recovery DTI In Vivo at 7T in the Human Brain

ISMRM Junior Fellowship 2014
for the commitment to the ISMRM through membership and attendance at ISMRM sponsored events, publication history, as well as selection as a presenter at ISMRM meetings

ISMRM Merit Award Magna cum Laude 2014 & White matter study group finalist 2014
for the abstract Resolving Myelin and Axonal Properties within the Same Voxel in Presence of Crossing Fibers by Combining Inversion Recovery and Diffusion Acquisitions

NeuroImage front cover 2014
for the illustration contained in the paper Why DT-MRI only works some of the time: Variance and covariance of tissue microstructure attributes in the living human brain

ISMRM Merit Award Summa cum Laude 2013 & White matter study group finalist 2013
for the abstract The CONNECT brain atlas of white matter microstructure

MRM Journal Distinguished Reviewer 2011-2014
for distinguished service to the society during 2011-2014 as a reviewer for the journal Magnetic Resonance in Medicine


Oct 2010 – Sept 2012: Research Associate in White Matter Imaging, Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, Cardiff, UK (funding by the EU FP7 CONNECT project to Prof. D. K. Jones)

Oct 2012 – Sept 2016: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, Cardiff, UK (funding by the Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Wellcome scheme to myself)