State-of-the-art High Field 7T MRI System Upgrade to Accelerate Translational Sciences

Project: Research project

Project Details


This S10 application is requesting funds to support a major upgrade to a state-of-the-art 7T small-animal Bruker Biospec MRI instrument that serves as the high-field, small-animal MRI system on the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (FSM) Chicago campus. The system was purchased over 10 years ago using funds from an NIH S10 award and has served as a key imaging instrument for preclinical biomedical research at the Northwestern imaging core facility (Center for Translational Imaging, CTI) for many NIH funded investigators. It has been a heavily used, highly-productive, and indispensable as a key discovery tool for basic and translational biomedical sciences. However, after >10 years of service, the 7T imaging equipment at Northwestern is an aging and outdated system and its performance limits ongoing research projects. In addition, the current type of high-field 7T MRI system (Bruker ClinScan) is no longer supported by the vendor (Bruker no longer provides upgrades, maintains hardware, or services the system in a satisfactory way), creating a particularly problematic scenario for reliable operation for ongoing and future small animal studies. To address this unmet need, we seek funding for the modernization our existing instrument to a state-of-the-art preclinical high field 7T MRI system (upgrade to 7T Bruker Biospec, including enhanced gradients, multi-channel transmit/receive capability, and advanced imaging sequences for increased versatility of supported imaging applications). The 7T MRI system upgrade will provide reliable modern equipment to allow the existing users to continue their successful preclinical research programs. Based on past usage and active NIH funded projects, the projects of the 16 Major Users would require approximately 82% of available time for use of the instrument, while the Minor Users would occupy 8% and the remaining would be available for exploratory research and testing of new preclinical imaging applications. The requested 7T MRI upgrade was tailored to the needs of userbase 1) by ensuring access to a reliable and serviceable small animal imaging instrument, and 2) by providing new imaging capabilities that are highly relevant to their preclinical research projects (e.g., multi-channel transmit/receive RF coils for improved SNR, B1 homogeneity and parallel imaging; enhanced gradients for improved imaging speed; dynamic filed map shimming; advanced MRI sequences, independent gradient cooling). There is strong institutional support for the 7T MRI system modernization and upgrade, as documented by a track record of continuous logistic and financial support for the small animal imaging instrumentation over the past decade. Location of the upgraded state-of-the-art high-field 7T MRI equipment in a well-established Northwestern imaging core facility with an existing small animal PET-CT system, small animal holding, and human MRI systems will allow for a sustained continuation and future expansion of Northwestern preclinical biomedical research activities.
Effective start/end date4/1/233/31/24


  • Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health (1S10OD032221-01A1)


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