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Dr Silvia De Santis

Dr Silvia De Santis

Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow

School of Psychology


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.


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


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)

Honours and awards

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













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


Past projects

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” (  in collaboration with the local artist Penelope Rose-Cowley.