ATLANTA—A $600,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with matching funding from Georgia State University, will bring a 7 Tesla (7T) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine to Georgia State.
MRI scanners use powerful magnets to produce three-dimensional images of anatomical structures. High-field instruments such as the 7T are distinguished by the strength of the magnetic field, which allows much clearer resolution for research and disease diagnosis. Compared to the more common 3T MRI imager, the 7T produces an unprecedented level of detail and allows researchers to perform non-invasive imaging of microscopic structures inside the bodies and brains of living animals.
The addition of this new technology, used in a handful of universities in the Southeast, will make Georgia State a hub for MRI research, allowing faculty to conduct animal research using one of the world’s strongest imaging machines available for the detection of disease.
“This is high-impact stuff,” said Jenny Yang, Regents’ Professor of Chemistry and principal investigator on the grant. “Not only will this technology provide better research results, it also brings us to the forefront of industry and educational leadership.”
The instrument, a BrukerBioSpec 70/20 USR, will be a valuable addition in a wide range of fields, involving 25 researchers across seven departments, centers and institutes whose research will be bolstered by the new scanner.
“The 7T will be a valuable research tool for both researchers who work at the neural and molecular levels in the study of the brain and various disease states,” said Michael P. Eriksen, interim vice president for research and economic development.
These include faculty working in neuroscience, cardiovascular and translational imaging, biomedical, cancer and drug discovery.
The acquisition of the 7T will be part of an imaging innovation hub meant to bring together faculty exploring a wide range of digital imaging research, including imaging at the nano-particle level, remote sensing for biophysics and space sciences, digital pathology, brain imaging using MRI imaging and other tools.
Yang, who is also the associate director of the Center for Diagnostics and Therapeutics, investigates the molecular basis of various human diseases. She has developed targeted MRI contrast agents to detect early stages of cancer and fibrosis, including liver cancer and liver fibrosis.
“The goal is to expand accessibility and pool expertise to develop probes, contrast agents and drug candidates to new, clinical applications,” Yang said. “With the increased capabilities of the new 7T scanner, novel agents developed at Georgia State can be immediately tested in animal models here and then moved more quickly into clinical trials.”
Yang investigates the molecular basis of various human diseases. She is developing more sensitive and more accurate MRI contrast agents and protein drugs with improved therapeutic effects against cancer, diabetes and virus infection.