A EU-funded project aiming to develop a novel technology
for whole-brain vascular and functional imaging at the micron-scale


MICROVASC is a 4M€ research project funded by the European Innovation Council (EIC) as part of the EIC Pathfinder Challenge “Tools to measure and stimulate activity in brain tissue”. We are a consortium of researchers aiming at developing a novel technology, called functional Ultrasound Localization Microscopy (fULM), to monitore the brain vasculature and function down to a micron scale resolution, across the entire organ, and in an non-invasive manner.

Diseases often originate at the cellular level deep within organs before manifesting observable symptoms. Within the brain, the cerebrovascular system forms a complex network of blood vessels that interact with neurons in a process known as neurovascular coupling. This interaction is vital for brain function and regulation of cerebral blood flow.

Any alteration in neurovascular coupling is closely linked to cerebral dysfunction, and early blood capillary dysfunctions in the brain are now recognized as underlying causes of various neurodegenerative disorders.

Current brain imaging modalities have limited capabilities, with millimetric resolution and inadequate capturing of blood flow dynamics. Functional Ultrasound Localization Microscopy (fULM) has the potential to revolutionize neurovascular imaging. By combining ultrafast ultrasound imaging and microbubbles, fULM enables the monitoring of the entire human brain vasculature and function at microscopic resolution. This innovative technique opens new possibilities for probing neurovascular coupling alterations and assessing microvasculature function non-invasively through the skull.

fULM could greatly contribute to early clinical diagnosis of neurovascular abnormalities, including conditions such as vascular dementia, as well as evaluating the efficacy of drugs in various microvascular diseases like hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, or retinal vasculopathy. MICROVASC project aims to investigate fULM in this context.

MICROVASC consortium gathers three academic research institutes (France, the Netherlands, Switzerland), one start-up company (France), and two hospitals (Italy, the Netherlands). All together, these six partners combine all the expertise to create a new technology for neuroimaging : the consortium will address major technical challenges of ultrasound imaging, develop advanced neurocomputational analysis methods, validate the methods in preclinical models of cerebrovascular diseases and perform a First-In-Human study.

Physics for Medicine Paris is a French research institute with internationally renowned expertise in biomedical ultrasound. It pioneered the two techniques that underpin MICROVASC project: functional ultrasound (fUS) imaging in 2011, and ultrasound localization microscopy (ULM) in 2015. The institute is the coordinator of MICROVASC project.


Iconeus is a French medtech company dedicated to brain ultrasound imaging. In 2019, it released the first worldwide commercial neurofunctional ultrasound system for preclinical research, which since then has had increasing sales across Europe, North America and Asia. Iconeus brings to MICROVASC consortium its expertise in building ultrasound neuroimaging systems which integrate leading-edge ultrasound methods.


Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) is a center for medical innovation with a unique research practice, ranging from pure fundamental research to applied clinical research. Reseachers in three particular focus areas – vascular and regenerative medicine, translational neuroscience, and biomedical imaging – will serve MICROVASC project by testing and validating the advanced ultrasound in preclinical models of small vessel diseases as well as in the clinical setting.


The Medical Imaging Processing Laboratory (MIPLab) at Swiss research lab of EPFL, developing new methodologies for medical image processing. More specifically, it pursues the development and integration of innovative processing tools at various stages of the acquisition, analysis and interpretation pipeline of neuroimaging data. In MICROVASC, the MIPLab will contribute to obtain new insights into brain function and dysfunction by modelling the brain as a network and a dynamical system.


Ospedale Maggiore di Crema is an Italian clinical center and one of the reference center for HHT (hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, a cerebral small vessel disease), as part of the European reference network VASCERN for rare vascular diseases. The team is experienced in using ultrasound for understanding hepatic disorders in HHT. In MICROVASC, it will participate to the clinical assessment of fULM technology in HHT patients.


Sint-Antonius Hospital is the Dutch reference center for HHT, member of the European reference network VASCERN for rare vascular diseases. Optimizing screening and diagnostic procedures of HHT patients has been the focus of the team, as well as improving the standard of care and establishing the most patient-friendly and safest therapeutic interventions. In MICROVASC, Sint-Antonius Hospital will be the principal clinical investigator to evaluate the feasibility of fULM in HHT patients.


Coming soon.

MICROVASC project is funded by the European Innovation Council and SMEs Exectutive Agency under grant agreement No 101070917 . Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.