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Biomedical MR Imaging and Spectroscopy

The Biomedical MR Imaging and Spectroscopy group develops and applies magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS) methods in preclinical animal models to study human diseases, with a particular focus on brain disorders. In addition, MR methods are combined with behavioral, physiological and histological measurements for optimal translational and correlational studies.

Research field

 

Our main research objectives are:

  1. elucidation of pathophysiology, recovery mechanisms and treatment effects in preclinical disease models with MRI and MRS;
  2. development and optimization of MR acquisition and analysis techniques for biomedical application;
  3. validation and improvement of the diagnostic potential of clinical MR tools in experimental models.

The laboratory

Our laboratory – located in the building Nieuw Gildestein, Yalelaan 2, Utrecht, which accommodates centralized animal care and research facilities – is equipped with two state-of-the-art animal MR systems with field strengths of 4.7 T (40-cm horizontal bore) and 9.4 T (20-cm horizontal bore). The inherent characteristics of MR allow us to perform non-invasive, three-dimensional and multiparametric biomedical research, in which we can assess tissue status (structural MRI, diffusion tensor imaging), hemodynamics (perfusion MRI), functional activation (functional MRI, including resting-state fMRI and pharmacological MRI) and metabolism (MRS). When combined with contrast agents, MRI allows the detection of cells and biomolecular entities (cellular and molecular MRI). These MR tools are combined with other methodologies to correlate MR results with behavioral, electrophysiological and histological measures. In addition, other techniques, such as in vivo optical imaging and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), are available for multimodal neuroimaging studies.

The Experimental and Translational Neuroimaging Chair

The Experimental and Translational Neuroimaging chair of the Center for Image Sciences is closely associated with the Biomedical MR Imaging and Spectroscopy group. This chair engages in application of MRI and MRS, optical microscopy, and nanotechnology, with perspectives for advancement of (pre)clinical research on neural and vascular factors in the brain. Development of image-based strategies can lead to unraveling of critical structural and functional aspects of brain disorders on which the UMC Utrecht’s Brain and Circulatory Health research programs focus, such as stroke, epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disorders. This may also contribute to advancement of innovative treatments such as neuroregenerative therapies, non-invasive brain stimulation, and brain-targeted drug delivery, of which the effects can be directly monitored with tailored multimodal imaging approaches.

Availability of equipment

Our equipment is also accessible to external (academic and industrial) users for collaborative projects involving imaging research on animal models (in vivo), human/animal tissues (ex vivo/post mortem) or biological/chemical samples (in vitro).

Collaboration

Multidisciplinary research approaches, in which innovative imaging strategies are applied and optimized for various biomedical studies, are realized in an experimental and preclinical setting in collaboration with local and (inter)national colleagues. Our studies are orchestrated from a strong translational perspective through close dialogue with clinicians, strong connection with clinical studies, and sharp attention to bridging findings from bench to bedside.