- Assistant Professor, Radiology and Radiological Science
- Principal Investigator, Responsive Imaging BioSensors and BioEngineering Lab, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Dr. Ethel Ngen (she/her) was a child when her uncle developed a brain tumor and experienced cognitive problems from treatment. “It just really changed him,” Ethel said.
Now, Ethel studies radiation-induced brain injury (RIBI)—damage to the brain caused by radiation treatment. RIBI can have devastating effects on memory and learning, especially for survivors of childhood cancer.
Ethel’s team uses MRI to find biomarkers that indicate brain damage from radiation. “The biomarkers are like a car’s check engine lights,” Ethel said. “Physicians can see there’s a problem when the lights are on, and they can try to fix it. When the lights are off, they know everything is OK.”
Imaging data from Ethel’s lab, used alongside neurological testing, could help doctors better recognize and treat RIBI and understand who is at risk of injury—an urgent need as increasing numbers of children with brain tumors are surviving into adulthood and living with RIBI.