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Dr Rafael Romero-Garcia

Departments and Institutes


Research Interests

Neurosurgical management of brain tumours has entered a new paradigm where resection is extended into the peri-tumoural margin to minimise the potential for recurrence or malignant transformation. Maximising the resection whilst minimising harm is complicated by difficulty in determining the edge of the tumour and limitations in mapping the function of apparently normal brain tissue surrounding the tumour.

Our group aim to address the problem of accurately mapping cognitive functions in a way that is of value to surgeons by using connectomics to create functional and structural 'wiring diagrams' of the brain. Connectomics uses white matter connectivity and the synchronicity of brain signals measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to model the brain as a continuously interacting communication networks. The way these brain networks are organized is intimately related to cognitive functions, and is believed to be sensitive to changes in these networks due to injury or surgery. Consequently, the hypothesis is that connectomics provides quantitative information on brain networks related to the cognitive functions of individual patients that is valuable to planning tumour resections.

The objective of our research is to derive from pre-operative MRI and connectomic analysis an estimate of the potential risk of resecting tissue in terms of functional loss post-operatively, and from changes in connectomic measure pre- and post-operatively, the likelihood of recovery. We will develop a demonstration system for surgical feedback consisting of a surgical mannequin to which MRI images are mapped and a 3D pointer to orientate the surgeons to the connectomic data. Risk estimates of resecting tissue will come from data collected before and after surgical resection of brain tumours, and up to 12 months following surgery, to discover what properties of the connectome best predict cognitive outcomes and their recovery during rehabilitation. This combined technology will be tested in an observational study for its effectiveness in supporting surgical planning.


  • connectivity
  • network
  • neuroimaging
  • graph

Key Publications

  1. Romero-Garcia R, Seidlitz J, Whitaker KJ, Morgan SE, Fonagy P, Dolan RJ, Jones PB, Goodyer IM, Suckling J, the NSPN Consortium, Vértes PE, Bullmore ET (2020). Schizotypy-related magnetization of cortex in healthy adolescence is co-located with expression of schizophrenia risk genes. Biological Psychiatry, in Press. -Impact Factor (IF)=11.5-
  2. Seidlitz J, Nadig A, Liu S, Bethlehem RA, Vértes PE, Morgan SE, Váša F, Romero-Garcia R, Lalonde FM, Clasen LS, Blumenthal JD, Paquola C, Bernhardt B, Wagstyl K, Polioudakis D, de la Torre-Ubieta L, Geschwind DH, Han JC, Lee NR, Murphy DG, Bullmore ET, Raznahan A (2020). Transcriptomic and Cellular Decoding of Regional Brain Vulnerability to Neurogenetic Disorders. Nature Communications. In Press, Impact Factor (IF)=11.9-
  3. Hart M, Romero-Garcia R, Price, SJ, Santarius T, Suckling J (2020). Connections, Tracts, Fractals, and the Rest: a Working Guide to Network and Connectivity Analyses in Neurosurgery. World Neurosurgery. In Press. (IF=1.8) 
  4. Shen C, Luo Q, Chamberlain SR, Morgan S, Romero-Garcia R, Du J, Zhao X, Touchette E, Montplaisir J, Vitaro F, Boivin M, Tremblay RE, Zhao X, Robaey P, Feng J, Sahakian BJ (2020). What is the Link between Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Sleep Disturbance. Biological Psychiatry, In Press. (IF=11.5)
  5. Romero-Garcia R, Erez Y, Oliver BAG, Owen M, Merali S, Poologaindran A, Morris RC, Price S, Santarius T, Suckling J, Hart M (2020). Practical Application of Networks in Neurosurgery: Combined 3D Printing, Neuronavigation, and Pre-Operative Surgical Planning. World Neurosurgery (IF=1.8) Editor’s choice
  6.  Váša F, Romero-Garcia R, Kitzbichler MG, Seidlitz J, Whitaker KJ, Vaghi MM, Kundu P, Patel AX, Fonagy P, Dolan RJ, Jones PB, Goodyer IM; NSPN Consortium, Vértes PE, Bullmore ET.Conservative and disruptive modes of adolescent change in human brain functional connectivity. PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.1906144117 (IF=9.58).
  7. Paquola C, Bethlehem RAI, Seidlitz J, Wagstyl K, Romero-Garcia R, Whitaker KJ, Vos De Wael R, Williams GB, NSPN Consortium, Vértes PE, Margulies DS, Bernhardt BC, Bullmore ET (2019). A moment of change: shifts in myeloarchitecture characterise adolescent development of cortical gradients. eLife, 10.7554/eLife.50482. (IF=7.6)
  8. Romero-Garcia R*, Suckling J*, Owen M, Assem M, Coelho P, McDonald A, Woodberry E, Santarius T, Erez Y, Hart M, (2019). Brain network disruption predicts memory and attention deficits after surgical resection of glioma. medRxiv doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/19008581. *Equally contributed
  9. Mihalik A, Ferreira F, Rosa M, Moutoussis M, Ziegler G, Monteio J, Portugal L, Adams R, Romero-Garcia R, Vértes P, Kitzbichler M, Váša F, Vaghi M, Bullmore E, Fonagy P, Goodyer I, Jones P, the NSPN Consortium, Dolan R, Mourao-Miranda J (2019). Brain-behaviour modes of covariation in healthy and clinically depressed young people. Scientific Reports, 11536. (IF=4.5)
  10. Solé-Casals J, Serra-Grabulosa J, Romero-Garcia R, Vilaseca G, Adan A, Vilaró N, Bargalló N, Bullmore E (2019). Structural covariance network in gifted children is more integrated and versatile. Brain Structure and Function, In Press. 
  11. Li, Romero-Garcia, Suckling, Feng (2019). Long-term Tea Drinking Modulates Brain Efficiency: Evidence from Brain Connectivity Evaluation. Aging, In Press
  12. Morgan, Seidlitz, Whitaker, Romero-Garcia R, Clifton, Scarpazza, Amelsvoort, Marcelis, van Os, Donohoe, Mothersill, Corvin, Pocklington, Raznahan, McGuire, Vértes, Bullmore, PSYSCAN Consortium (2019). Cortical patterning of abnormal morphometric similarity in psychosis is associated with brain expression of schizophrenia related genes. PNAS, In Press.
  13. Hakon Grydeland, Petra E. Vertes, Frantisek Vasa, Rafael Romero-Garcia, Kirstie J. Whitaker, Aaron Felix Alexander-Bloch, Atle Bjornerud, Ameera X. Patel, Donatas Sedervicius, Christian K. Tamnes, Lars Tjelta Westlye, Simon R. White, Kristine B. Walhovd, Anders M. Fjell, Edward T. Bullmore (2018). Waves of maturation and senescence in the life-course of human brain micro-structural MRI markers of cortical myelination. Cerebral Cortex, In Press. -Impact Factor (IF)=6.3-
  14. Mak E, Bethlehem RAI, Rittman, T, Romero-Garcia R, Cervenka S, Gabel S, Surendranathan A, Bevan-Jones WR, Passamonti L, Vázquez Rodríguez P, Arnold R, Hong YT, Fryer TD, Aigbirhio F, Rowe JB, O’Brien JT (2018). In vivo coupling of tau pathology and cortical thinning in Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, In Press.
  15. Hart M*, Romero-Garcia R*, Price S, Suckling J (2018). Global effects of focal tumours on functional complexity and network robustness. Neurosurgery, In Press. *Equally contributed. (IF=4.5)
  16. Romero-Garcia R, Whitaker KJ, Váša F, Seidlitz J, Shinn M, Fonagy P, Dolan RJ, Jones PB, Goodyer IM; NSPN Consortium, Bullmore ET, Vértes PE (2018). Structural covariance networks are coupled to expression of genes enriched in supragranular layers of the human cortex. Neuroimage, 171:256-267. (IF=5.4)
  17. Romero-Garcia R*, Warrier V*, Bullmore ET, Baron-Cohen S, Bethlehem RAI (2018). Synaptic and transcriptionally downregulated genes are associated with cortical thickness differences in autism. Molecular Psychiatry, 10.1038/s41380-018-0023-7. *Equally contributed. (IF=11.6)
  18. Vasa F, Seidlitz J, Romero-Garcia R, Whitaker K, Rosenthal G, Vertes P, Shinn M, Alexander-Bloch A, Fonagy P, Dolan R, Jones P, Goodyer I, The NSPN Consortium, Sporns O, Bullmore E (2017). Adolescent Tuning of Association Cortex in Human Structural Brain Networks. Cerebral cortex, 28:281-294. (IF=6.3)
  19. Seidlitz J, Váša F, Shinn M, Romero-Garcia R, Whitaker KJ, Vértes PE, Wagstyl K, Kirkpatrick Reardon P, Clasen L, Liu S, Messinger A, Leopold DA, Fonagy P, Dolan RJ, Jones PB, Goodyer IM; NSPN Consortium, Raznahan A, Bullmore ET (2017). Morphometric Similarity Networks Detect Microscale Cortical Organization and Predict Inter-Individual Cognitive Variation. Neuron, 97(1):231-247.e7. (IF=14.3)
  20. Bethlehem* RAI, Romero-Garcia* R, Mak R, Bullmore ET, Baron-Cohen S (2017). Structural covariance networks in children with autism or ADHD. Cerebral cortex, 27:4267-4276. *Equally contributed.  (IF=6.3)
  21. Shinn M, Romero-Garcia R, Seidlitz J, Váša F, Vértes PE, Bullmore E (2017). Versatility of nodal affiliation to communities. Scientific Reports, 7:4273.  (IF=4.1)
  22. Vértes PE, Rittman T, Whitaker KJ, Romero-Garcia R, Váša F, Kitzbichler M, Fonagy P, Dolan RJ, Jones PB, Goodyer IM, the NSPN Consortium, Bullmore ET (2016). Gene transcription profiles associated with intra-modular and inter-modular hubs in human fMRI networks. Philosophical Transactions B. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0362 (IF=5.8)
  23. Whitaker KJ, Vértes PE, Romero-Garcia R, Váša F, Moutoussis M, Prabhu G, Weiskopf N, Callaghan MF, Wagstyl K, Rittman T, Tait R, Ooi C, Suckling J, Inkster B, Fonagy P, Dolan RJ, Jones PB, Goodyer IM, Bullmore ET (2016). Adolescence is associated with transcriptionally patterned consolidation of the hubs of the human brain connectome. PNAS, 113:9105-10. (IF=9.7)
  24. Romero-Garcia R, Atienza M, Cantero JL (2016). Different Scales of Cortical Organization are Selectively Targeted in the Progression to Alzheimer's Disease. International Journal of Neural Systems, 26:1650003. (IF=6.3)
  25. Hart MG, Ypma R, Romero-Garcia R, Price SJ, Suckling J (2016). Graph theory analysis of complex brain networks: new concepts in brain mapping applied to neurosurgery. Journal of Neurosurgery, 124:1665-78. (IF=4.1)
  26. Romero-Garcia R, Atienza M, Cantero JL (2013). Predictors of coupling between structural and functional cortical networks in normal aging. Human Brain Mapping, DOI:10.1002/hbm.22362. (IF=6.0)
  27. Romero-Garcia R, Atienza M, Clemmensen LH, Cantero JL (2012). Effects of network resolution on topological properties of human neocortex, Neuroimage, 59: 3522-3532. (IF=6.2)