Headshot photo of Christopher D. Kroenke, Ph.D.

Christopher D. Kroenke, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Oregon National Primate Research Center


The Kroenke laboratory develops magnetic resonance techniques for characterizing brain throughout the lifespan, with a focus on the fetal developmental period.  Specific areas of interest include:

Using non-invasive imaging to model brain growth: Recent advances in fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques have provided us with high resolution 3D images of the fetal human brain throughout gestation. The Kroenke laboratory is characterizing this highly dynamic phase of brain development in multiple mammalian species, with the goal of relating information available through fetal MRI to underlying biological processes such as cell proliferation and morphological development.

The role of biomechanics in the formation of gyri and sulci: The folded cerebral cortical surface distinguishes the brains of many phylogenetically-advanced species from lissencephalic (“smooth-brained”) species such as mice and rats. Observations of abnormal brain folding patterns in individuals affected by various neurodevelopmental disorders suggest that folding relates to functional development of the brain. The Kroenke laboratory contributes to this research area by integrating imaging data with mechanical measurements and computational simulations of growth, to understand how mechanical phenomena influence cortical folding in development.

Understanding how cell morphology influences diffusion-weighted MRI: Diffusion MRI (also sometimes termed diffusion tensor imaging, or DTI) can be used to non-invasively measure the direction of axon fibers within a specific brain region, and this technique is used in “fiber tractography,” the delineation of the major white matter fiber bundles of the brain. The Kroenke laboratory has contributed understanding of the biophysics that links diffusion MRI data to the underlying structure of tissue, and ongoing work aims to use this information in studies of cellular development at the time in which functional neural circuits are formed.

Animal models of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disease: The Kroenke laboratory has developed animal models of neurodevelopmental disorders, and collaborated extensively with other OHSU investigators, to apply MRI in the characterization of environmental influences on brain development and function. Examples include the influence of alcohol exposure throughout the lifespan, and characterization of various perturbations to fetal brain development. Such studies aim to expand our understanding of findings from neuroimaging studies of human subjects by enabling precise experimental control over research subjects, and validation of MRI-based findings with independent experimental approaches.

Dr. Kroenke received his Ph.D. in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University in 2000. He pursued his postdoctoral fellowship in the Washington University Department of Radiology. He was an Assistant Professor of Radiology at Washington University before he joined OHSU in 2006. Dr. Kroenke holds affiliate appointments in the OHSU Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Behevioral Neuroscience.

Education and training

    • Ph.D., 2000, Columbia University
  • Fellowship

    • Postdoctoral fellowship, Washington University, Department of Radiology

Areas of interest

  • Fetal development
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neurodevelopment disorders
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders



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