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About the MR Research Facility

About the MR Research Facility:

The University of Iowa MR Research Facility was established in August of 2004 and now supports research dedicated 3T and 7T whole body scanners and a 7T small animal scanner. The MRRF facility has received two NIH High End Instrumentation grants over the past ten years to help support the acquisition of these instruments. In 2016, the facility moved into the Iowa Institute for Biomedical Imaging (IIBI) located within the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building (PBDB). The MRRF is run as a Core University facility. 

The MR Research Center aims to maintain state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. This requires an investment in both the hardware and software that compose our center's mainstay, and also an investment in recruiting and maintaining exceptional personnel. To that end, we have been actively pursuing development in the following areas to advance the research at our University...

Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI)

This is of interest mainly for evaluation of brain morphology changes associated with neurological and psychiatric disorders. We have been working on novel schemes for rotating the diffusion tensor and multishot approaches for high resolution Diffusion Tensor Imaging. We are also working on tools for fiber tracking. These tools are currently available through the Neuroimaging Informatics Tools and Resources Clearinghouse.

T1rho Imaging

The primary application of this technique is to assess and quantify pathologic cartilage matrix changes that are not detectable with standard morphological MRI. Initial work has focused on the knee joint in an ACL injury population to determine the suitability of T1rho as an imaging biomarker for early detection of osteoarthritis. Broader application to the ankle and hip joints are also being explored. We are also evaluating the utilization of this method to study pH changes that may result from stress including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression.

Arterial Spin Labeling

Using the Siemens ASL WIP for VB13, we have started to evaluate this technique for functional brain activation studies. To date we have successfully generated reproducible measurements within the occipital cortex and are starting to evaluate higher order cognitive activation studies.

MR Spectroscopy

We have been working on tools for partial volume correction of brain MR spectroscopy studies and have been able to obtain the PEPSI sequence from Stefan Posse. Various pilot studies are currently being conducted using 1H-MRS, and at least one research group has voiced interest in evaluating treatment trials in Huntington’s disease using 1H-MRS.

Magnetic Source Imaging

We are currently working on assessing the validity and reliability of magnetic source imaging. This is a potentially powerful tool to understand brain function at a high temporal and spatial resolution.

Pulmonary MRI

Lung imaging research within the MRRF and Department of Radiology encompasses both ultrashort time to echo (UTE) and hyperpolarized 129Xe MRI development. The primary application of these techniques is being developed for clinical translation to understand and improve treatment for chronic lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, interstitial lung disease and lung transplant.

Cardiac MRI

Cardiac MRI development encompasses novel methods for fast self-gated cardiac motion compensation, including perfusion and wall motion studies in conjunction with 4D Flow measures of blood velocity in major vessels (e.g. aorta and pulmonary artery and venous flow) allowing for characterization of pulmonary arterial hypertension, and congenital heart disease and heart failure.

Dynamic Contrast Enhanced (DCE) MRI

Fast DCE MRI research focuses on chronic diseases leading to impaired regional perfusion and phenotyping of breast cancer lesions using kinetic modeling. Technical development applications include improved acquisition and reconstruction methods for high spatial and temporal resolution fast MRI studies.

Scanner Operating Hours

Standard operating hours for the equipment is as follows:

    Research-dedicated 3T GE SIGNA Premier scanner: Monday- Friday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Research-dedicated 7T GE MR950 scanner: Monday- Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Small Animal 7T GE MR901 scanner: Monday- Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Shared 3T Scanner located in Clinical MRI Facility: Tuesday 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.