A photo of Mark DiFrancesco.

Mark DiFrancesco, PhD

  • Assistant Director, Pediatric Neuroimaging Research Consortium
  • Assistant Professor, UC Department of Radiology



I’m a physicist and neuroimaging researcher in the Imaging Research Center at Cincinnati Children’s. I study the brain using advanced imaging methods, including structural, functional and diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). I’m also interested in lung structure, lung perfusion and methods of studying brain perfusion and microstructural and microvascular integrity.

After completing my PhD training in 1989, I spent 15 years in the medical device industry. I joined Cincinnati Children’s as a neuroimaging researcher in 2004. Since then, I’ve contributed to clinical and basic research by applying my skills as a physicist and brain researcher to multidisciplinary projects that require collaboration from a variety of clinical investigators.

Together, we’re working to understand the mechanisms of disease and other conditions that may contribute to neurodegeneration and cognitive dysfunction. We also seek to characterize common underlying processes of brain disease, such as neuroinflammation.


Higher access to screens is related to decreased functional connectivity between neural networks associated with basic attention skills and cognitive control in children. Meri, R; Hutton, J; Farah, R; DiFrancesco, M; Gozman, L; Horowitz-Kraus, T. Child Neuropsychology. 2022; 1-20.

Cerebral blood flow is lower in youth with type 2 diabetes compared to obese controls: A pilot study. Redel, JM; DiFrancesco, M; Lee, GR; Ziv, A; Dolan, LM; Brady, CC; Shah, AS. Pediatric Diabetes. 2022; 23:291-300.

The role of visual attention in dyslexia: Behavioral and neurobiological evidence. Taran, N; Farah, R; DiFrancesco, M; Altaye, M; Vannest, J; Holland, S; Rosch, K; Schlaggar, BL; Horowitz-Kraus, T. Human Brain Mapping. 2022; 43:1720-1737.

Mapping the human corticoreticular pathway with multimodal delineation of the gigantocellular reticular nucleus and high-resolution diffusion tractography. Boyne, P; DiFrancesco, M; Awosika, OO; Williamson, B; Vannest, J. Journal of the Neurological Sciences. 2022; 434.

Categorizing cortical dysplasia lesions for surgical outcome using network functional connectivity. Bdaiwi, AS; Greiner, HM; Leach, J; Mangano, FT; DiFrancesco, MW. Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics. 2021; 28:600-608.

Neuronal activation and performance changes in working memory induced by chronic sleep restriction in adolescents. Alsameen, M; DiFrancesco, MW; Drummond, SP A; Franzen, PL; Beebe, DW. Journal of Sleep Research. 2021; 30.

Higher maternal education is related to negative functional connectivity between attention system networks and reading-related regions in children with reading difficulties compared to typical readers. Greenwood, P; Dudley, J; Hutton, J; DiFrancesco, M; Farah, R; Horowitz-Kraus, T. Molecular Brain Research. 2021; 1766.

Association of Orthostatic Hypotension With Cerebral Atrophy in Patients With Lewy Body Disorders. Pilotto, A; Romagnolo, A; Scalvini, A; Masellis, M; Shimo, Y; Bonanni, L; Camicioli, R; Wang, LL; Dwivedi, AK; Longardner, K; et al. Neurology. 2021; 97:e814-e824.

Longer Screen Vs. Reading Time is Related to Greater Functional Connections Between the Salience Network and Executive Functions Regions in Children with Reading Difficulties Vs. Typical Readers. Horowitz-Kraus, T; DiFrancesco, M; Greenwood, P; Scott, E; Vannest, J; Hutton, J; Dudley, J; Altaye, M; Farah, R. Child Psychiatry and Human Development. 2021; 52:681-692.

Cerebral microvascular and microstructural integrity is regionally altered in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. DiFrancesco, MW; Lee, G; Altaye, M; Beebe, DW; Meyers-Eaton, J; Brunner, HI. Arthritis Research and Therapy. 2020; 22.