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Powerful MRI System Unveiled in Chicago

Photonics.com
Sep 2004
CHICAGO, Sept. 21 -- The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) unveiled today the world's most powerful magnetic resonance imaging machine for human studies, capable of imaging not just the anatomy but metabolism within the brain.

Central to the technology is a 9.4-tesla magnet, larger than any other human-sized magnet, built by GE Healthcare. A tesla is a large measuring unit of magnetic strength.

"This technological leap forward is as revolutionary to the medical community as the transition from radio to television was for society," said Keith Thulborn, director of the UIC Center for Magnetic Resonance Research, at the facility's grand opening today. "GE's magnet is introducing a whole new dimension to imaging by enabling researchers to better understand how the human brain thinks, learns, fights disease and responds to experimental therapies."

The 9.4-tesla magnet, which is three times more powerful than current clinical MRI magnets and more than 100,000 times stronger than the earth's magnetic field, will enable UIC researchers to detect signals from sodium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen -- the metabolic building blocks of brain function and human thought.

"Brain scanning is pushed to the limit with the current technology -- we need the sensitivity of the 9.4-tesla magnet to go beyond anatomic imaging to metabolic imaging," Thulborn said. "Metabolism provides the energy that drives brain function and therefore offers the key to uncovering the mysteries of the mind."

Thulborn, who worked with GE researchers to develop the 9.4-tesla MRI system, said he will use it to help identify and monitor many common conditions and diseases of the brain -- including stroke, Alzheimer's, autism and mental illness -- and to observe and potentially treat cognitive learning disorders like attention deficit disorder.

For more information, visit: www.uic.edu



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