Magnetic Resonance Imaging Laboratory

With two identical whole-body 3 T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners and a 14.1 T micro-imaging scanner, this laboratory can support imaging research for humans, animals, and materials.

3 Tesla MRI Scanners

At the heart of the BIC MRI facilities are two full-body Prisma MRI 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines. The scanners allow for high signal-to-noise and high spatial resolution imaging through high-performance gradient sets and 64-channel receiver systems. These scanners have a full complement of coils for whole-body imaging, including spine matrix array, transmit/receive knee and wrist coils, and flexible matrix arrays of varying sizes that allow for MRI examinations of any body part.

The two machines occupy neighboring suites in BIC and are both outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment for fMRI stimulus presentation and response recording, including LCD monitors, noise-canceling headphones, and button and joystick response boxes. We also use physiological monitoring to track respiration and heart rate of participants during imaging experiments.

BIC has full-time research staff dedicated to the human MRI scanners that work with investigators to help design and implement their imaging study, and can program custom pulse sequences to meet specific needs. Additional MRI access is available through the 3 T Siemens Trio in the Department of Radiology at Carle Foundation Hospital, enabling translational imaging research.

Beginning a scan with the Siemens 3 T MRI whole-body scanner in BIC's MRI lab
Beginning a scan with the Siemens 3 T MRI whole-body scanner in BIC's Magnetic Resonance Imaging Laboratory.

Varian 600 MHz Small-Bore Scanner

Accompanying the human MRI capabilities is a ultra-high field, 14.1T Varian Unity/Inova upright, small-bore MRI scanner. The machine is actually a 600 MHz NMR spectrometer outfitted with multiple receiver channels and high-strength gradient coils for performing both imaging and spectroscopy measurements. The maximum usable magnet diameter is 25 mm, making this system ideal for scanning small samples up to the size of a mouse. The Varian 600 is one of only seven such systems in operation in the world.

The 600 MHz scanner is supported by a research scientist to help design studies, optimize pulse sequences, and operate the machine. Additionally, BIC has the ability to create custom RF coils to meet the specific needs of users and projects.

Loading a specimen into the Varian 600 MHz small-bore scanner in BIC's MRI lab
Loading a specimen into the Varian 600 MHz small-bore scanner in BIC's Magnetic Resonance Imaging Laboratory

Molecular Imaging Laboratory

The central feature of the molecular imaging facility is a hybrid Siemens Inveon triple-modality microPET/SPECT/CT scanner. The scanner is highly adaptable allowing for various multimodal configurations combining anatomical (CT) with functional (SPECT or PET) imaging modalities, all on a single gantry. The system is equipped with multiple pinhole and parallel hole collimators, acquisition and image processing workstations, and BioVet monitoring system, which allows for rapid evaluation of radiotracers in vivo.

The microPET/SPECT/CT scanner is housed in a state-of-the-art laboratory space that allows for the complete development, synthesis, bioconjugation, and testing of multimodal targeted agents to monitor biological processes within living animals. The facility encompasses resources for molecular and cell biology, bioconjugation, and radiochemistry, including biosafety hoods and radiochemistry hoods with dose calibrators. The suite also contains dedicated areas for sterile surgery and physiological monitoring.

A PerkinElmer IVIS Spectrum CT live-animal imaging system provides in vivo small animal imaging that supports both 3D optical and x-ray computed tomography (CT) imaging, which are necessary for colocalization of functional information with the anatomy.

The molecular imaging research staff oversee the complete operations of the lab and scanner performance. They are available to support and shape research projects for investigators.

Preparing samples in BIC's Molecular Imaging Laboratory
Preparing samples in BIC's Molecular Imaging Laboratory

Ultrasound Imaging Laboratory

The BIC ultrasound capabilities are focused on small-animal investigations with the Visual Sonics Vevo 2100 scanner. The scanner is designed for pre-clinical research on a variety of animal models including mouse, rat, and rabbit. The ultrasound laboratory has its own animal prep room, and a trained ultrasound technician is available to perform studies.

Setting up a scan in BIC's Ultrasound Imaging Laboratory
Setting up a scan in BIC's Ultrasound Imaging Laboratory