The principal objective of the Neuroimaging Informatics and Analysis Center (NIAC) Imaging Core is to enhance the research of NIAC-supported investigators by providing hands-on expertise, MRI physics development and support, and an advanced analysis software platform. These functions will be provided to all WashU investigators, but with a particular focus on clinical researchers and novice investigators who otherwise lack the expertise to adopt neuroimaging methods into their research. As a secondary objective, we will facilitate the translation of advanced neuroimaging methods into clinical diagnostic practices at WashU- affiliated hospitals.
With Aim 1, the Core will provide image acquisition guidance to the WashU neuroscience research community, including through the Standard NIAC Acquisition Protocol (SNAP), a detailed specification of advanced MRI sequences that can be readily used in a wide spectrum of basic and clinical research. The SNAP includes state-of-the-art sequences, including high-resolution anatomic scans and multi- band short echo time functional MRI and diffusion tractography imaging. A standardized suite of analysis methods will be developed and supported to enable streamlined use of the SNAP and next generation scanners now deployed at WashU.
With Aim 2, the core will support the development and validation of new image sequences that leverage the unprecedented capabilities of the high gradient strength MRI scanners and simultaneous PET/MRI scanner. These methods include diffusion basis spectrum imaging, multi-band echo planar imaging, and diffuse optical tomography. The Imaging Core's analysis software platform will be extended to enable the effective use of these advanced devices and acquisition methods, and our staff will inform investigators of their advantages and will guide investigators in their use by incorporating them into the SNAP. Finally, with Aim 3, the Core will extend its imaging and analytic methods to support translation of advanced neuroimaging methods to the clinic. The Core will partner with the Administrative and Informatics Cores in a Center-wide crosscutting effort to implement a clinical translation framework that includes automated image processing and quality control analytics pipelines developed by the Imaging Core and deployed on the Translational Imaging Platform (TIP) operated by the Informatics Core. We will collaborate with Center investigators to validate methods as they are translated and moved to routine patient care.
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