Magnetic Resonance Biophysics
Scientists in the Department of Biophysics have been engaged in MRI research for more than 20 years, beginning with the installation of one of the first 1.5 Tesla scanners produced by General Electric. Early papers were mostly concerned with the development of surface coils tailored to nearly every body part in a context of musculoskeletal radiology. In 1992, MCW students and faculty wrote the first paper published on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and available resources became focused on the new field of fMRI. Technology development continued to be important, including the introduction of the local gradient coil for fMRI and development of the widely used fMRI software program AFNI (Analysis of Functional NeuroImages). Currently, emphasis on technology for fMRI continues, but, increasingly, MRI research in the Department of Biophysics involves mechanisms of fMRI contrast in the brain and applications of fMRI to problems in neuroscience. Extension of MRI research to cardiology is a recent initiative.
Currently, three faculty members in Biophysics are engaged in MRI research, Professors James Hyde, Shi-Jiang Li, and Andrew Nencka. Five individuals are pursuing the PhD degree in Biophysics under the mentorship of these faculty members. Nine students are pursuing the PhD degree in Biophysics with faculty mentors who have second or adjunct appointments in Biophysics (Professors Jeffrey Binder, Edgar (Ted) DeYoe, Tugan Muftuler, and Kathleen Schmainda). Abstracts presented at International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine annual meetings provide a comprehensive overview of current research. The number of PhD graduates in Biophysics with emphasis on MRI is extensive. Many of these individuals have become national leaders in MRI.
In the spring of 2005, a new imaging facility was constructed adjacent to the existing Department of Biophysics offices and laboratories, and two new MRI scanners were installed. One of these, a GE 3 Tesla scanner, was purchased using an award from the National Center for Research Resources' (NCRR/NIH) High End Instrumentation Program. It is completely dedicated to research. The other scanner, a 9.4 Tesla for small-animal research, was purchased using an award from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), White House. Another GE 3 Tesla is also dedicated to research. It was installed in the spring of 2005 and is housed in the Keck Imaging Center (Froedtert). It is more suitable for translational research involving patients.
Administratively, both 3T scanners are assigned to the Center for Imaging Research. All Biophysics MRI faculty are members of the CIR.
The 9.4T scanner is administered by the Department of Biophysics. The facility that houses the 9.4T includes extensive space for animal surgery and animal conditioning.
An addition to this facility has been completed and will soon house a 7T scanner.