Sean Fain, PhD

Sean Fain, PhD

University of Iowa

Research Project:
Understanding “Long Haul” COVID-19

Grant Awarded:

  • COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award

Research Topic:

  • biomarkers

Research Disease:

  • COVID-19

The causes of prolonged symptoms in patients with post-COVID syndrome remain unclear. This project applies novel CT and MRI methods to study regional lung perfusion and gas exchange in the lungs, which may point to local areas of injury that persist after resolution of COVID-19 infection undetectable using conventional methods. Imaging is performed in patients who experienced varying severity of COVID-19 infection to better understand persistence and resolution of regional lung function over time. Local regions of abnormal lung function detected by these novel imaging methods are then compared to other clinically established measures of respiratory function and fatigue. Image-guided investigations make it possible to study cellular and molecular makers of inflammation and injury more precisely in post-COVID patients. In addition to our single center studies, we have developed protocols to support this imaging at other hospitals and research centers to expand access to a greater number of post-COVID patients.

Update: We have developed novel hyperpolarized gas MRI and CT methods to investigate gas exchange and blood flow in post-COVID patients with persistent symptoms and ventilation abnormalities. We have developed and tested the image protocol in healthy normal volunteers and post-COVID patients from our COVID registry and clinic in which chest CT scans were performed in all subjects. Novel CT and MRI protocols are standardized to perform according to standards of performance harmonized across different scanner makes and models for multi-center studies. Multi-center studies will increase access to a greater number of post-COVID patients who can be followed to better understand persistence and resolution of post-COVID lung injury.

Page last updated: October 6, 2022

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