Texas Heart Institute research scientist receives grant to help kids at risk for Moyamoya Disease

Texas Heart Institute (THI) Senior Research Scientist Shaolie S. Hossain, PhD, received a prestigious NIH grant to build prediction models that may help identify kids at risk of stroke due to pediatric moyamoya disease.

Kids with chronic moyamoya disease often suffer recurrent stroke. Dr. Hossain’s proposed research will build a robust framework for calculating stroke risk for kids with this devastating disease.

Children with moyamoya often have other conditions such as sickle cell disease, Down syndrome, and congenital heart disease—further complicating treatment.

The ultimate goal is to reveal trends that could help doctors prevent the progression of moyamoya disease and choose the best treatment.

Moyamoya disease is a rare condition in which the arteries that supply blood to the brain become narrowed. This limits the flow of blood to the brain and increases the risk of stroke and transient ischemic attack, or “mini stroke.”

The brain tries to make up for the reduced blood flow by growing new blood vessels. These new vessels are tangled and have a wispy, smoke-like appearance on an x-ray—hence the name moyamoya, which means “puff of smoke” in Japanese.

Unfortunately, the condition can get worse with age, and children with moyamoya must receive treatment to reduce their risk of stroke.

In addition to identifying children with moyamoya, the data computed by Dr. Hossain’s prediction model will also provide a better understanding of the characteristic brain alterations that occur as the disease gets worse.

“We are very proud of Shaolie’s accomplishment and of her research plans,” says James T. Willerson, M.D, President Emeritus of the Texas Heart Institute. “Young people with moyamoya disease will hopefully be helped by this planned research.”

Dr. Hossain’s long-term goal is to use the data generated by the research project to support a larger investigation of 50 pediatric patients in the future.

In addition to her work at THI, Dr. Hossain is an Associate Research Professor at the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) of the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin). She received her master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at UT Austin. She now specializes in Computational Fluid Dynamics and Nanomedicine.

This work will be carried out in collaboration with Ananth Annapragada, PhD, of Texas Children’s Hospital and Dianna Milewicz, MD, PHD, of UT Health, who will serve as consultants on this grant.

“Currently, the standard of care is poorly informed, and we hope to help surgeons select the children most vulnerable to repeated strokes. To intervene before a devastating event in kids is always the goal,” says Dr. Hossain.

Research reported in this publication is supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number 1R03NS110442-01. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.