ARRA Funding for Small Animal MRI
The National Institute for Research Resources, part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded $3.2 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funding to the University of Kentucky for the purchase and installation of a high-field small animal MRI. The scanner will be available to researchers in April 2011.
The state-of-the art 7 Tesla Bruker ClinScan instrument (left) will be housed in UK's Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy Center (MRISC). The center is supported by funding from the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center (SCoBIRC). MRISC is a service center and has supported basic and clinical research at UK since 1985. Located in the Markey Cancer Center complex in the Davis-Mills Building, the center is currently being renovated through a HRSA award. MRISC offers an advanced 3 Tesla Siemens Magnetom Trio MRI scanner for human studies, computing facilities, electronic and fabrication shops, and a multi-user laboratory available to support magnetic resonance and spectroscopy studies. Scientific and technical personnel are available to help in developing MR sequences and procedures as well as to help with image processing analysis. MRISC's goals:
- To facilitate research use of advanced MRI and spectroscopy instrumentation by students and faculty. This includes the active recruitment of new users and the development of new applications.
- To upgrade and improve center instrumentation and software.
- To provide the best user-oriented research support services at the lowest cost possible.
The new MRI scanner will be exclusively dedicated to animal research. It will offer the UK research community unique non-invasive imaging capabilities, including superior spatial and temporal resolution not achievable with existing instruments. Although funded primarily for NIH-supported investigators, instrument time for other users will be available. The Siemens Syngo software platform and IDEA pulse sequence programming language is compatible with human Siemens MRI scanners already on campus, making applications developed on the ClinScan translatable to these scanners. Planned research includes:
- Measuring the brain and spinal cord’s response to and recovery from a variety of peripheral experimental injuries.
- In vivo imaging of tissue implants and axon re-growth.
- Serial monitoring of important indices of cerebral anatomy, e.g., cortical thickness, regional grey and white matter volumes or VBM maps, before and at several time points after treatment.
- Studying the effects of methamphetamine abuse and ethanol withdrawal.
- In vivo characterization of tumor growth and response to treatment of prostate cancer.
- Evaluating the anatomy, perfusion, Ca2+ influx, metabolism, function, and infarction of a mouse heart.
- Imaging of the rat orbital to study the special role of mitochondria in extraocular muscle.
- Evaluating the temporal development of an aneurysm in relation to the level of androgens to better characterize the interaction between hormone level and tissue remodeling.
These studies will use a variety of advanced techniques that will be available to us on the 7T ClinScan Animal MRI scanner including:
- Functional imaging using BOLD (blood oxygen level dependent) contrast to explore brain responses associated with changes in synaptic activity.
- White matter fiber characterization using DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) to measure experimental alterations in axons and myelin in the brain and spinal cord.
- Multinuclear spectroscopy to investigate metabolic cycles and quantify metabolites non-hydrogen nuclei, including phosphorus, nitrogen and carbon. Phosphorus spectra reflect energy metabolism and carbon spectra intermediary metabolism.
- Ultra-fast imaging for demanding applications, for example imaging the beating mouse heart.
- Blood flow and perfusion imaging to quantify the blood flow, blood volume, and mean transit times for organs such as the heart, prostate, muscles and brain.
- High-resolution anatomical imaging (~ 200 microns) that can be acquired in scan times of approximately an hour (see the high resolution anatomical TSE image of a rat brain, right).
Scientific and technical personnel are on staff to help develop MR sequences and scanning procedures, and to aid image processing and analysis: MRISC director Dr. Charles Smith, physicists Drs. Peter Hardy and David Powell, and image processing scientist Dr. Anders Anderson. Ms. Nancy Bailey is the MRISC business manager and the MRI registered technologist is Ms. Agnes Bognar, RT.
New research projects using MRI can be started by scheduling an appointment to discuss the project with MRISC staff and to tour the MRISC facility (Contact: Ms. Nancy Bailey, 859-323-3973, firstname.lastname@example.org). These discussions take place in a friendly and supportive atmosphere, with the MRISC goal of helping investigators harness powerful MRI technology to answer their scientific questions. Special attention is given to a major step toward that goal, providing help in obtaining extramural funding. For technical questions concerning the ClinScan please contact David Powell, PhD, for more information (859-323-0017, email@example.com).