Magnetic Resonance (MR) overcomes the limitations of imaging methods such as CT and x-ray imaging that are based solely on the measurement of attenuation of x-rays as they pass through tissues, which only provide gray scale structural images of the body. MRI has multidimensional capabilities that are ever expanding. For example, in addition to providing gray scale anatomic images, MRI allows scientists to
- Quantitatively measure the speed of blood flowing through an artery,
- Observe the rate and direction of diffusion of water molecules through brain tissue,
- Measure the concentration of tissue metabolites in vivo,
- Monitor brain function during the performance of a specific task.
These exciting new methods are allowing scientists to non-invasively probe the inner workings of the human body in more detail than was ever possible before. Moreover, the potential for future growth in the capabilities of MRI and the beneficial effects on science and medicine is seemingly endless.
The University of Washington Magnetic Resonance Research Laboratory has been providing access to state-of-the-art MR systems and technical expertise for more than a decade to scientists throughout the UW campus and has on-going research collaborations with many other scientific centers throughout the world. It serves as a major site for medical research, for the development of new technology, and for teaching. The laboratory is comprised of more than 25 research personnel that include physicists, physicians, biochemists, bioengineers, research technicians, and senior research fellows. In addition, it supports projects with affiliate researchers from more than 15 departments across the university campus including the departments of bioengineering, education, music, neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, psychology, rehabilitation medicine, and speech and hearing sciences. The laboratory continues to extend collaboration and support to aid in research throughout the UW Medicine community and throughout the world in order to increase scientific understanding and to promote the quality of health care. The RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS page highlights but a few of the more than 100 on-going projects currently supported in the MR Research Laboratory.
The MR laboratory is now equiped with a more powerful 3T MR systems. A new Integrated Brain Imaging Research Center (IBIC) is being created to centralize efforts in multidisciplinary neuroscience research. Interest in MR-based molecular imaging research is also growing as novel methods for imaging disease and for assessing response to experimental therapies are devised. These are but a few of the many research applications of MR that are currently being pursued in the laboratory. In all, the future of MR technology is very bright. It promises to contribute revolutionary advances in medical science areas as yet unimagined. The University of Washington Magnetic Resonance Research Laboratory will continue to contribute to this forward progress.
Ken Maravilla, MD
The research projects supported by the MR Research Laboratory are funded by a variety of public and private institutions. The figure below illustrates the categories and percentage of support from all sponsors.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH): 90%
- Research Royalty Fund (RRF): 0.3%
- Private Institutes and Foundations: 9%
- Other Government Sources (e.g. NASA, NSF): 0.7% Total Funding for All Projects Conducting MR Research: $45,329,271