During the past two decades, there has been an explosive growth in the utilization of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in biomedical research, such that MRI currently plays a significant role for the diagnosis and management of patients involving virtually every pathology. Since the MR image quality per unit scan time is largely determined by the intrinsic signal-to-noise ratio, several leading institutions in the US and overseas either already have 7T whole-body systems or are on their way to acquiring ultrahigh- field scanners in the near future. Initial results from a few laboratories suggest MRI and MRS at field strengths of 7-9T to have great promise by providing insight into structure, function and physiology in humans not obtainable at lower fields. However, it is well known that at these field strengths, radiofrequency field (RF) in the tissue is highly inhomogeneous which results in spatially dependent tissue contrast and thus masks subtle changes in the contrast due to pathological changes in the tissue. Despite many advantages of ultra high field MRI, the above-mentioned spatial variation of RF field severely limits our ability to exploit the high field advantages to fullest extent. It has been shown that parallel transmit arrays enable one to largely overcome these problems. In this proposal, we request funds for the acquisition of a parallel transmit array for interfacing with 7T whole-body MRI scanner at the University of Pennsylvania. We show that the proposed upgrade of the system will substantially enhance ongoing research in 23 R01s, one P41 and three program project grants at four centers: the Center for Magnetic Resonance and Optical Imaging (CMROI), the Center for Functional Neuroimaging (CfN), the Center for Molecular imaging (CEMI), and the Laboratory for Structural NMR Imaging (LSNI). Biomedical imaging research in these four laboratories covers a wide range of applications and new methods development involving functional brain imaging for basic and clinical neuroscience, the study of neurodegenerative and metabolic disorders, molecular imaging for cancer detection and treatment monitoring, novel approaches to cardiovascular disease and tissue perfusion, and joint and bone disease (arthritis and osteoporosis). The 7T system is integrated into the Center for Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy (CAMRIS) at the University of Pennsylvania. The resource will be run by an Executive Committee (EC) under the auspices of the current CAMRIS Committee.
Imaging technologies developed at the 7T resource will have substantial impact on fundamental understanding, early diagnosis, and development of novel therapies for several human diseases.