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.

PhD: Physics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, 1989.

MS: Physics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, 1985.

BS: Physics, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, 1981.

Research Areas



Altered neuronal response to visual food stimuli in adolescents undergoing chronic sleep restriction. DiFrancesco, MW; Alsameen, M; St-Onge, MP; Duraccio, KM; Beebe, DW. Sleep. 2024; 47:zsad036.

Circadian blood pressure dysregulation in children with obstructive sleep apnea. Ferdous Khan, MT; Smith, DF; Schuler, CL; Witter, AM; DiFrancesco, MW; Domany, KA; Amin, RS; Hossain, MM. Sleep. 2024; 47:zsad254.

Maternal education as an environmental factor related to reading in children with reading difficulties: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Greenwood, P; Hutton, J; Dudley, J; DiFrancesco, M; Farah, R; Altaye, M; Horowitz-Kraus, T. Dyslexia: an international journal of research and practice. 2023; 29:217-234.

[Formula: see text] 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. 2023; 29:666-685.

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; 434:120091.

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:e13304.

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. Brain Research. 2021; 1766:147532.