Magnetic Resonance Research Center
Description of Services
The Magnetic Resonance Research Center (MRRC) is a 3000 sq ft research space in the Paca-Pratt Building (100 S. Paca St, Suite 104) and houses the research 3.0 Tesla Siemens Tim-Trio scanner which is also equipped with the state of the art gradient and computer system with eighteen channels for parallel imaging. The 3.0 Tesla is also equipped with multi-nuclear capability and is used for phosphorus and sodium detection. The facility also houses a GE Lunar Dexa scanner for bone densitometry studies. The goals of MRRC is to translate basic science to the clinic and to advance the state of the art in the neurosciences, develop novel image guided interventions, and to develop multi-parametric methods for early detection of neurodegeneration, cancer staging and to develop novel imaging markers. Although primarily used for human imaging, the scanner is also available for large animal imaging. The MRRC supports over 20 users on the campus and from neighboring institutes working on federal and non-federal projects including the Allen Institute for Brain Sciences.
A strong research relationship exists between the MRRC and the scientists from Siemens Medical Solutions which facilitates the progress on many ongoing research projects. The MRI group is well-trained on the use of the IDEA pulse sequence environment and the ICE environment for reconstruction on the Siemens scanner, and has created several in-house novel pulse sequences to probe in vivo physiology, biochemistry and function. Stimulus presentation software and hardware for fMRI is available. Training is available for all users to design and test novel fMRI paradigms. Some of the imaging services include (but are not limited to) studying:
Because a significant portion of the research conducted at both the MR facilities pertains to fMRI, the scanning rooms have been designed with optimum radio-frequency (RF) shielding. All electronic equipment that is brought into the scan room pass through a penetration panel which is conveniently located at the scanner console. The center also features power conditioning to enhance MRI temporal stability. Preventive maintenance that involves measurement of temporal stability and noise characteristics are done on a monthly basis over and beyond what is performed by the vendors of the respective machines. A 100 Kilowatt uninterruptible power supply (UPS) provides continuous conditioning of the electrical power for the scanners, shielding the gradient and radio-frequency amplifiers from any fluctuations in building power.
In addition to the above facilities, the MRRC also has access to the three clinical scanners in the Gudelsky building of the University of Maryland Medical Center. Although primarily used for clinical purposes, significant time has been allocated for research on these scanners. Further, it is an ideal place for clinician scientist to test new hypothesis on clinical population and is also ideal for clinical research and clinical trials research. Several fMRI clinical procedures are performed at this center on an annual basis. It is an interdisciplinary facility dedicated to providing state-of-the-art technology in imaging, and has extensive MRI expertise to facilitate biomedical research in the neurosciences, cancer research and new imaging technology development. The center’s primary resources are two 1.5T MR state-of-the-art Siemens Avanto systems and a 3.0 Tesla Siemens Tim-Trio system with eighteen channels each for parallel imaging. These scanners are available for research after 4pm every day and all of the weekend. In addition, the outpatient center is equipped with a 1.5 Tesla Siemens Espree magnet, which is also available for research after 5pm every day including the weekends.
State-of-the-art equipment is available for design and construction of RF coils including an Agilent Network Analyzer, spectrum analyzer, and several oscilloscopes. Equipment for fabrication of coil forms is also available.
Computational Resources at MRRC
At the MRRC, there are two main processing and storage servers: a 4-core Intel server running 64-bit Ubuntu with 8GB memory and a 3TB raid 5 disk array, and a 6-core AMD server running 64-bit Ubuntu with 16GB memory and a 12TB raid 5 disk array. There are also multiple (8+) Ubuntu workstations, and numerous Windows 7 and XP workstations. For MRRC data storage, in addition to the server disk drives, a rack-mount Iomega NAS with 8TB of storage (expandable to 24TB) is also available. All systems are networked and all server and NAS disks are accessible from any workstation or server.
For DICOM image storage and retrieval, a home-built research PACS server that uses DCM4CHE PACS s/w, and a MySQL database interface is available. All equipment at the MRRC are configured to send DICOM images to the research PACS server.
Assistance is available for researchers from personnel at MRRC to help in the study design and quantitative image analysis. Capabilities also exist within the center to build custom made coils for specific MRI applications. Dedicated image processing workstations are available at the MRRC to facilitate various projects. Investigators are provided training on the use of the equipment and image processing techniques. All servers also have the capability to read and write CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray media.
In addition to the servers, a number of linux and windows workstations are also available. For fMRI stimulus presentation and subject response collection, E-prime is available on the windows systems, and we also have the capability of collecting both cardiac and respiratory information digitally during MRI scans. In-house developed software is also available that controls the triggers from or to the scanners. Matlab and IDL with multiple network nodes is available for the development of novel image processing algorithms, and other programming languages and packages are available for image processing and analysis (C++, Java, Perl, AFNI, FSL, MIPAV, TrackVis).