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Magnetic Resonance Research Facility

The MR Research Facility (MRRF), one of the imaging centers of the Iowa Institute for Biomedical Imaging (IIBI), operates as a core university resource that provides research MR imaging facilities to the Institute for Clinical & Translational Science (ICTS). The facility manages research time on four MR scanners: 1) 100% allocation 3T scanner, 2) 50% allocation 3T scanner, 3) 10% allocation 1.5T, and 4) 100% allocation 7T whole body scanner. The MRRF currently supports 51 funded projects (40 NIH) from over 30 investigators across 6 colleges and 15 departments. The research dedicated 3T scanner was acquired through a High End Instrumentation Grant awarded in 2006 and serves as the primary system utilized for MR research studies at the University of Iowa. The College of Medicine invested $1.2 million renovating the space for this scanner, and we have continued to provide new technologies on this system for investigators. This has allowed us to have 20% annual growth in scanner utilization. A primary reason for this increased growth is the MRRF pilot grant program that supports acquisition of small datasets (~10 hours of scan time) to be used for grant applications. Presently, there are approximately 10 active projects acquiring pilot scans. Over the past five years, projects that have received pilot scans supported by the MR Research Facility have been awarded 10 R01s, 5 Program Project or Center Grants, 2 R21, and 12 grants from private foundations, the Veterans Administration, and the National Science Foundation. To support the growth of the imaging research, the University of Iowa is constructing the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building (PBDB). The IIBI has been allocated over 26,000 square feet of space within the PBDB building to support both human and small animal imaging. This new space includes space for four whole body scanners and ten small animal imaging scanners including a 9.4T small animal MRI scanner. The 7T scanner will be installed in PBDB in November of 2013. To enhance exposure of this unique resource across campus, the MRRF is sponsoring a quarterly 7T lecture series.

The MRRF provides support for translational research in animal models using a 4.7T small animal MR scanner for mice and rats as well as the human scanners for larger animal models (rabbit models for bone healing, goat models of osteoarthritis, and pig tumor models). In addition to support of projects across campus, the MRRF has been focused on MR technology development. A number of innovative projects are currently being undertaken and include 1) development and validation of pH sensitive MR imaging techniques, 2) new functional imaging techniques including magnetic source imaging, 3) accelerated imaging using compressed sensing, 4) lung imaging using hyperpolarized 3He and SF6, and 5) development of biomarkers for osteoarthritis. The facility has participated in a number of multi-center imaging studies including fBIRN, PREDICT-HD, Incyte, Direct-Net, and ADNI. Finally, the MRRF has contributed to the development of novel tools for analysis of brain morphology (BRAINS) and diffusion tensor imaging (GTRACT) as well as contributed to the development of 3D Slicer, ITK, and VTK open source software.