Biophysics

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Animal Imaging Program


Image of the rat brain at 9.4 Tesla


The Medical College of Wisconsin's Animal Imaging Program was created within the Department of Biophysics to provide support for animal research (rodents) in studies of drug abuse, rodent functional MRI (fMRI), genomics, and cancer. The facility includes extensive space for animal surgery and animal conditioning. Dr. Shi-Jiang Li is the Director of the program.

Scope of the Program

The Animal Imaging Program was developed as the main infrastructure for drug-demand reduction research conducted by investigators from the Medical College of Wisconsin, Mar­quette University, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It is a fundamental platform for:

  • Conducting advanced research on drug-demand reduction
  • Expand­ing the capabilities of fMRI research technology tailored to the needs of the drug-re­search community
  • Training the next generation of researchers pres­ently serv­ing as either post­doctoral fellows or doctoral students on drugs-of-abuse

Immediate Goals

The goals of the Animal Imaging Program are to utilize fMRI technology and imaging physics in examining the acute and chronic effects of illicit drugs on neural circuitry and to elucidate the neural mechanisms involved in the demand for illicit drugs by:

  • Detailing illicit drug-induced blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) contrast mechanisms in the brain
  • Determining the effects of specific receptor-agonist/antagonist interactions in neural pathways related to reward and reinforcement
  • Identifying phenotypic neuronal circuitry associated with drug abuse
  • Identifying neural mechanisms of increased demand for drugs and compulsive drug-taking behavior

Long-Term Goals

  • To promote and stimulate animal (rodent) imaging research at the Medical College of Wisconsin
  • To help acquire increased NIH and other extramural funding for Medical College of Wisconsin researchers engaged in drug-abuse, rodent fMRI, genomics, and cancer research
  • To promote translational research in drug-abuse, rodent fMRI, genomics, and cancer at the Medical College of Wisconsin and neighboring institutes
  • To promote increased collaborations in drug-abuse, rodent fMRI, genomics, and cancer research between basic scientists and clinical researchers
  • To develop the capability of noninvasively imaging free radicals associated with disease using animal (rodent) models

Environment and Resources

The Medical College of Wisconsin's Animal Imaging Program is unique because it is closely associated with NIBIB, the National Biomedical EPR Center, and with MRI facilities in the Department of Biophysics. State-of-the art facilities and equipment are available through the program.

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Page Updated 10/14/2014