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Professor Franklyn Howe

Professor of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Use of multimodal MRI to develop diagnostic and prognostic markers of disease and treatment response

Franklyn Howe is a Professor of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) with a research focus to develop automated analysis of multimodal MRI that aids diagnosis of brain tumours. He uses a variety of MRI methods, including perfusion and diffusion imaging, to obtain structural and functional information of brain tissue and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to provide biochemical information.

Professor Howe is interested in applying pattern recognition techniques that can be used to optimally combine data from different MRI methods. With multimodal MRI he aims to develop biomarkers that can aid in diagnosis, assessing patient prognosis and monitor the response to treatment. For glial brain tumours he aims to develop software that can more accurately delineate the tumour, its heterogeneity in tissue type and indicate its aggressiveness.

Professor Howe collaborates with scientists and clinicians in St George’s to apply advanced MRI acquisition and analysis methods to a wide variety of diseases that include: brain tumours, dementia, Tourette syndrome, cerebrovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lupus, lymphœdema, osteoarthritis and normal ageing. Information gleaned from MRI can aid in understanding the mechanisms of the disease and enable development of biomarkers that can be translated into clinical practice for improved patient management.

Professor Howe is currently head of the Neurosciences Research Centre in the Molecular and Clinical Sciences Research Institute at St George’s. He has a research focus on brain tumours using 1H MRS with multimodal MRI and pattern recognition methods to aid automated tumour delineation, classification and diagnosis. He collaborates within St George’s in a wide range of clinical research studies using MRI and MRS, which have included cancer, cerebrovascular disease, lupus, muscle bioenergetics, normal aging and osteoarthritis. Professor Howe was involved in the development of MR Neurography at St George's in 1992, a non-invasive method used to obtain detailed images of nerves that can be used to help diagnose nerve-related disorders. He joined St George's in 1988, as a member of the Cancer Research UK Biomedical Magnetic Resonance (MR) Research Group, developing MR imaging and spectroscopy (MRI & MRS) techniques to monitor treatment response in pre-clinical cancer and from 1992 helped develop clinical MR projects at St George’s. In 2007 he was appointed Senior Lecturer and joined the Stroke and Dementia Research Centre and he was appointed Professor in 2014.

His first degree was in Physics (BA [Oxon]) and he obtained a DPhil on 'Magnetisation and microwave absorption in rare earth metal alloys' from the University of Oxford in 1984. He undertook postdoctoral research evaluating MRI contrast agents at St Bartholomew's Hospital and in MR image analysis at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School (now part of Imperial College School of Medicine ) before moving to St George's.

Professor Howe is a long-standing member of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) and has been chair of the ISMRM MRS Study Group and co-founder and chair of the Pediatric MR Study Group.

Active and recent funding has been from:

Medical Research Council

Innovate UK

Cancer Research UK

St George's Innovation and Enterprise Award


Alzheimer's Research UK

Collaborations within St George's

Dr Thomas Barrick

Dr Atticus Hainsworth

Dr Jeremy  Isaacs (Neurology)

Dr Pia Ostergaard

Prof Sahar Mansour (Clinical Genetics)

Prof Nidhi Sofat (Rheumatology)


Current Research Group

Ian Storey (PhD Student)

Mike Mills (MRI physicist)

Professor Howe is co-organiser of the Clinical Neuroscience module offered to medical students who opt to undertake an intercalated BSc course.

He lectures undergraduates about the clinical applications of magnetic resonance imaging, contributing to Anatomy, Biology of Cancer and Clinical Neuroscience modules for MBBS and BSc courses.

He supervises lab-based MRes and BSc student research projects and library-based Special Study Courses on the Biomedical Applications of Magnetic Resonance.

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