Professor Richard G Wise BA MA PhD Cantab


Research group:
029 208 70358
CUBRIC, Maindy Road

Research summary

My research aims to develop ways of non-invasively imaging human brain function using magnetic resonance imaging and electrophysiological techniques. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) has taught us much about human brain function over the last 15 years, allowing us to map where in the brain information processing is taking place. We are now developing more these imaging techniques to provide more quantitative measurements of brain function based on alterations in blood flow and the brain’s oxygen usage. The development of these techniques is helping us to study of the action of drugs in the human brain and to probe more deeply disease processes in the brain.

Teaching summary

I teach at the postgraduate level on the theory and practice of functional MRI.  Courses are held at CUBRIC throughout the year and cover the basics of FMRI physiology, acquisition methods, data analysis, experimental design and interpretation as well as advanced FMRI techniques such as simultaneous EEG-FMRI and arterial spin labelling perfusion measurements. Details of CUBRIC’s Neuroimaging Training can be found here.

Selected publications (2014 onwards)


Full list of publications


Research topics and related papers

My research focuses on the development and application of quantitative FMRI techniques as well as multimodal imaging such as the combination of EEG and FMRI. We aim to apply these advanced techniques to the study of brain function in health and disease and to study drug effects in the brain including analgesics (Wise et al 2002, 2004), sedatives and caffeine (Diukova et al 2012).
Specifically we are investigating the coupling between neural and vascular activity and between metabolic and vascular activity in the brain. We are investigating the physiology underlying the BOLD response and the factors that affect this image contrast. An aim of our work is to improve our interpretation of FMRI data as a marker of neural activity in demanding applications such as disease and drug studies where underlying cerebral physiology may be altered (see Iannetti and Wise 2007).
We are applying techniques to measure drug-induced changes in cerebral perfusion (using arterial spin labelling) (see Murphy et al 2011 and Carhart-Harris et al 2012) to localise drug effects. We are developing techniques to maximise the information extracted from simultaneous EEG and FMRI which has the advantage of providing electrophysiological as well as haemodynamic information. We are also developing methods for the measurement of cerebro-vascular reactivity and cerebral oxygen metabolism with the use of respiratory challenges in the MRI scanner to modulate blood flow and oxygenation (Murphy et al 2011, Chiarelli et al 2007).
We are applying our research to study pharmacological sedation in collaboration with Anaesthetists. We are also investigating changes in the brain with chronic pain and with neurological conditions such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. We are also applying our techniques to understand the brain’s control of basic body functions such as breathing (Pattinson et al 2009) and cardiovascular control and cerebral autoregulation.


EPSRC, Improving EEG reading of brain states for clinical applications using a data-driven joint model of FMRI and EEG. Richard Wise, Yulia Hicks and Cyril Charron. 2011-2012. £132,000.

Arthritis Research UK (Centre Grant). Cardiff University Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre. 2009-2014. Vic Duance, Debbie Mason, Cathy Holt, Sam Evans, Daniel Aeschlimann, Stephen Denyer, Bronwen Evans, Simon Jones, Daniela Riccardi, Robert van Deursen, Anwen Williams, Richard Wise. £2,500,000.

Wellcome Trust. 4 year PhD programme in Integrative Neuroscience. 2008-2014. Vincenzo Crunelli (PI) John Aggleton (PI), Mark Good, Kim Graham, Robert Honey, Derek Jones, Simon Killcross, Andrew Lawrence, John Pearce, Krish Singh, Ed Wilding, Richard Wise, Nick Craddock, Lesley Jones, George Kirov, Michael O’Donovan, Michael Owen, Anita Thapar, Marianne van den Bree, Lawrence Wilkinson, Julie Williams, Nigel Williams, Vladimir Buchman, Alun Davies, Stephen Dunnett, Kevin Fox, AJ Harwood, Stuart Hughes, Anne Rosser, Frank Sengpiel. £4m.

Marie Curie (FP7) European Fellowship, Routes to Arousal: a simultaneous EEG-FMRI investigation of pharmacological sedation in humans. 2010-2012. Awarded to Dr Tommaso Gili (host, Richard Wise). €181,000.

Current Fellowships sponsored/supervised

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Banting Fellowship awarded to Dr Ashley Harris

Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship. Quantifying vascular influences on neurovascular coupling with fMRI, awarded to Dr Kevin Murphy

Selected past funding
Pfizer Ltd, Pharmacological modulation of free-running EEG. Richard Wise. 2010-2011. £61,000.

Waterloo Foundation. Advanced Neuroimaging in BECCTS. 2010-2012. Derek Jones, Krish Singh, Richard Wise, Dave McGonigle, Suresh Muthukumaraswamy. £110,000.

Welsh Assembly Government: Academic expertise for business (A4B), collaborative industrial research project. The integrated brain imaging and stimulation project (IBIS). 2010-2012. Chris Chambers, Krish Singh, Richard Wise, Derek Jones, David Jiles. £194,000.

Alzheimer’s Research Trust. Cerebral small vessel disease, blunted perfusion responses and adaptation to early Alzheimer’s disease. 2010-2012. Mike O’Sullivan, Richard Wise, Derek Jones, Tony Bayer. £26,950.

Pfizer Ltd. Optimising pharmacological FMRI for drug development. 2008-2010.Richard Wise. £257,000.

MRC Career Development Award. Pharmacological neuroimaging: assessing FMRI as a biomarker of changes in neuronal activity using combined EEG and FMRI. 2005-2010. Richard Wise. £473,000.

Research group

Dr Cyril Charron (Postdoctoral scientist, School of Psychology, Cardiff University)
Dr Tommaso Gili (Postdoctoral fellow, School of Psychology, Cardiff University)
Dr Ashley Harris (Postdoctoral fellow, School of Psychology, Cardiff University)
Ilona Lipp (PG, School of Psychology, Cardiff University)
Kevin Poon (PG, School of Psychology, Cardiff University)
Dr Neeraj Saxena (PG, School of Psychology, Cardiff University)
Alan Stone (PG, School of Psychology, Cardiff University)
Ann Taylor (PG, School of Psychology, Cardiff University)
Esther Warnert (PG, School of Psychology, Cardiff University)

Research collaborators

School of Psychology, Cardiff
Dr Chris Chambers
Prof Derek Jones
Dr David McGonigle
Dr Kevin Murphy
Prof Krish Singh

Cardiff University
Prof Judith Hall (Cardiff Institute of Infection and Immunity, School of Medicine, Cardiff University)

Dr Ann Harvey (Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre, Cardiff University)

Prof John Cockcroft (Institute of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, School of Medicine, Cardiff University)

Prof Sailesh Kotecha (Institute of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, School of Medicine, Cardiff University)

Dr Valentina Tomassini (Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, School of Medicine)

Dr Xavier Caseras (Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, School of Medicine)

Prof William Gray (Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, School of Medicine)

Prof Damian Bailey (University of Glamorgan)
Prof Carlo Caltagirone (Santa Lucia Foundation, Rome)
Dr Federico Giove (University of Rome, La Sapienza)
Dr Giandomenico Iannetti (University College London)
Dr Emma Hart (Bristol University)
Dr Tom Liu (UCSD FMRI Center)
Prof Bruno Maraviglia (University of Rome, La Sapienza)
Prof David Nutt (Imperial College)
Prof Julian Paton (Bristol University)
Dr Kyle Pattinson (Oxford University, Nuffield Department of anaesthetics)
Prof Peter Rogers (Bristol University)
Dr Bill Vennart (Pfizer Ltd.)
Dr Fernando Zelaya (Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London)

Postgraduate research interests

My research involves developing and applying quantitative FMRI techniques to study the physiology of the human brain. My group also aims to combine multiple techniques such as EEG or MEG and FMRI to examine neurovascular coupling. Vascular function is an important aspect of brain function and this underlies the generation of the BOLD FMRI signal. We are studying vascular function using FMRI techniques included arterial spin labelling perfusion measurement and we are also aiming to provide more quantitative measurements of brain function including the rate of oxygen consumption. In the course of our research we use respiratory challenges in the MRI scanner. We aim to apply our techniques in pharmacological studies to examine drug effects on the brain and in studies of pain, hypertension, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and cerebrovascular disease.

Opportunities for research range from basic methods development (suited to the more technically oriented), through to application of these methods to study healthy and diseased brains.
If you are interested in applying for a PhD, or for further information regarding my postgraduate research, please contact me directly (contact details available on the 'Overview' page), or submit a formal application here.

Current students

Ilona Lipp. Emotion regulation and associated physiological changes and regulating genetic factors
Kevin Poon. Study of pulmonary hypertension
Dr Neeraj Saxena. MRI and MEG studies of propofol sedatio
Alan Stone. Development of quantitative FMRI methods including measurement of oxygen metabolism
Ann Taylor. Chronic non-malignant pain studied with FMRI
Esther Warnert. Development of brainstem FMRI to study cardiovascular control

Previous students

Dr Laura Zambreanu
Dr Steve Mayhew (School of Psychology, Birmingham University)
Dr Kyle Pattinson (Oxford University, Nuffield Department of anaesthetics)

Undergraduate education

1991-1994: BA Hons (First Class). Natural Sciences (Part II: Physics and Theoretical Physics), Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University

Postgraduate education

1994-1998: PhD, Fitzwilliam College and Herchel Smith Laboratory for Medicinal Chemistry, Department of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge University. “Magnetic Resonance Imaging Studies of Cardiovascular Function and its Changes in Hypertension”

Awards/external committees

Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust (SDBTT) Grant Review and Monitoring Committee member
Associate Editor of the journal “Human Brain Mapping”


2006-2010: MRC Career Development Fellow, Cardiff University

2005-Sept 2006: MRC Career Development Fellow, FMRIB Centre, University of Oxford

2006-Sept 2006: University Research Lecturer, Department of Clinical Neurology, University of Oxford

2005: Wellcome Trust “Value in People” Fellow, Department of Human Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford

2002-2005: Wellcome Trust Advanced Training Research Fellow, Department of Human Anatomy and Genetics and FMRIB Centre, University of Oxford

2000-2002: Post-doctoral research scientist, FMRIB Centre, Department of Clinical Neurology, University of Oxford

1999: System Engineer, The Smith Group, Guildford, UK

1994-1998: Wellcome Trust 4 year PhD Research Training studentship in Mathematical Biology, Cambridge University