Thijs, originally from Belgium, is a senior postdoctoral research officer at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health (Melbourne, Australia). He holds a Bachelor and Master in informatics (computer science), as well as a post-graduate degree in advanced medical imaging and a PhD degree in Engineering from the University of Leuven in Belgium. His PhD was on the topic of diffusion MRI, a medical imaging technique that can map the dense bundles of cables ("axons") in the white matter of the brain, which connect the processing regions in the gray matter.
He moved to Melbourne in 2014, where he is developing fully automated methods to extract tissue-specific microstructural information from more conventional (clinically feasible) diffusion MR images. This improves the specificity of bio-markers as well as the quality of the reconstruction of white matter bundles, while keeping scanning times short for patients. These reconstructions of cables in the white matter are used to help plan brain surgeries, for instance where a brain tumour has to be removed: surgeons can then aim to remove as much of the tumour as possible, while avoiding damage to important axon bundles.