Mustapha Bouhrara, Ph.D.

Stadtman Investigator

Magnetic Resonance Physics of Aging and Dementia Unit


Room 04C017
251 Bayview Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21224


Research Topics

The MRPAD Unit performs biophysical and physiological studies of the human central nervous system (CNS). The overarching mission of MRPAD is to establish links between functional and structural changes that occur in normative aging and age-related diseases, and to develop accurate pre-symptomatic biomarkers that will assist with differential diagnosis, characterize the rate of disease progression, and facilitate development of therapeutics. This research program incorporates three major distinct, but complementary, components. The first component is expanding upon and refining existing methods in addition to developing novel magnetic resonance (MR) techniques, such as: methods that are based on multicomponent relaxometry and diffusion, magnetization transfer, water exchange, high-dimensional imaging, susceptibility imaging and cerebral functioning, for the quantification of fundamental determinants and properties of the CNS, including myelin content, axonal and neurite densities, neuroinflammation, iron content, sodium content, cerebral blood flow and cerebrovascular reactivity. The second component of this research program involves studying the effects of reversible and nonreversible metabolic, functional, vascular and genetic risk factors on these imaging biomarkers of CNS's microstructure, composition and function in normative aging and disease. The third component is studying the impact of changes in these imaging biomarkers on functional, behavioral and cognitive impairments, in addition to combining them with liquid biopsy biomarkers to further elucidate the mechanisms underlying the aging physiology and age-related diseases pathophysiology. Much of this work incorporates measures collected in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging (BLSA), the Genetic and Epigenetic Signatures of Translational Aging Laboratory Testing (GESTALT) cohort, the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study, the UK Biobank, and the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) cohort.


After finishing his undergraduate degree in physics in Morocco, Mustapha Bouhrara moved to France where he obtained a professional Master's degree in biomedical engineering from Sophia Antipolis University of Nice in 2007, a research Master's degree in morphological, metabolic, functional, and molecular imaging from Claude Bernard University of Lyon in 2008, and his Ph.D. in biophysics and magnetic resonance imaging from Blaise Pascal University of Clermont-Ferrand in 2012. He was a Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow, Research Fellow, and Staff Scientist at the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) from 2012 until 2020. In 2020, Dr. Bouhrara obtained the prestigious Stadtman Investigator Award. He is currently serving as a Principal Investigator and the Chief of the Magnetic Resonance Physics of Aging and Dementia (MRPAD) Unit at the NIA of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Bouhrara has received various awards, including the NIA Director's Award in 2017 and 2019, and the NIH Award of Merit in 2018 for his work on myelin and cerebral blood flow quantifications applied to aging and dementia.

Selected Publications

  1. Walker KA, Duggan MR, Gong Z, Dark HE, Laporte JP, Faulkner ME, An Y, Lewis A, Moghekar AR, Resnick SM, Bouhrara M. MRI and fluid biomarkers reveal determinants of myelin and axonal loss with aging. Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 2023;10(3):397-407.
  2. Kiely M, Triebswetter C, Cortina LE, Gong Z, Alsameen MH, Spencer RG, Bouhrara M. Insights into human cerebral white matter maturation and degeneration across the adult lifespan. Neuroimage. 2022;247:118727.
  3. Khattar N, Triebswetter C, Kiely M, Ferrucci L, Resnick SM, Spencer RG, Bouhrara M. Investigation of the association between cerebral iron content and myelin content in normative aging using quantitative magnetic resonance neuroimaging. Neuroimage. 2021;239:118267.
  4. Bouhrara M, Reiter DA, Bergeron CM, Zukley LM, Ferrucci L, Resnick SM, Spencer RG. Evidence of demyelination in mild cognitive impairment and dementia using a direct and specific magnetic resonance imaging measure of myelin content. Alzheimers Dement. 2018;14(8):998-1004.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Tuesday, May 9, 2023