Purdue installs powerful MRI system for research, training

March 10, 2013  


MRI machine

Purdue University has installed this powerful MRI machine - the only one of its kind in Indiana - that will boost research and training capabilities and serve the regional scientific community. The system was installed in the Bindley Bioscience Center in February and is expected to be operational later this month. (Purdue University photo)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University has installed a powerful type of MRI machine - the only one of its kind in Indiana - that will boost research and training capabilities and serve the regional scientific community.

"It's a multiuser facility for the whole state," said Corey Neu, an assistant professor in Purdue University's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

The new magnetic resonance imaging machine has a magnetic field strength of 7-Tesla, or more than twice as powerful as Purdue's 3-Tesla MRI machine. The 3-Tesla MRI is designed primarily for human clinical studies, whereas the new MRI is designed with a "small bore" for use with small animals and for basic research.

"The acquisition of the new 7T MRI complements the 3T MRI," said Richard Buckius, Purdue's vice president for research. "It is important for Purdue researchers in many disciplines to have access to these kinds of systems, positioning our research capabilities right where they need to be."

The 3-Tesla and 7-Tesla MRI systems operate under the direction of Purdue's MRI Facility, which is a core research facility of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. The MRI Facility is available to users from Purdue and around the state in research areas as diverse as psychology and cancer, veterinary medicine and osteoarthritis.

The $1.9 million system was installed in the Bindley Bioscience Center in Purdue's Discovery Park in February and is expected to be operational later this month. The system, manufactured by Bruker Corp., allows researchers to take "microscopic MRI" images of structures and processes nearly on the scale of cells.

"It will allow us to do really high-resolution research," said Neu, who spearheaded efforts to acquire the system. "Not only does it expand our research capability, but it allows us to train graduate students and postdoctoral research associates."

Funding for the 7T MRI system was provided through a partnership among several departments, the colleges of Engineering, Science and Health and Human Sciences and Purdue's Office of the Vice President for Research.

Magnetic resonance imaging is a non-invasive method that allows physicians to "see" internal tissues by using magnetic fields to interact with the protons in the patient's body. The magnetic field in an MRI system is rated using a unit of measure known as Tesla, named for Nikola Tesla, a Serbian-American physicist, inventor and electrical engineer who discovered magnetic inductivity, the process that makes magnetic resonance imaging possible. Three Tesla (3T) is equivalent to 60,000 times the Earth's magnetic field. The 7T doubles that magnetic field.

Researchers will use the system for work involving small laboratory animals including mice and rats; to image human body parts and tissues that have been removed during surgery or from cadavers to study various disease processes; to study biomaterials for medicine; and to perform functional MRI on the brains of live animals to complement studies in humans.

"A nice thing about the system is you can conduct a lot of basic research and then immediately transition to human studies by going from the 7-Tesla system to the 3-Tesla machine," Neu said. "For example, you might collect image data on a human knee joint using the new system and then transfer to the 3-Tesla system to image living people." 

Writer: Emil Venere, 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu 

Source: Corey Neu, 765-496-1426, cpneu@purdue.edu

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