Center for Translation Neurotrauma Imaging Creates New Research Avenues for Neuroscience Community

The Center for Translation Neurotrauma Imaging (CTNI) at BUSM has revolutionized brain imaging and greatly enhanced neurotrauma research, thanks to a 4.9 million dollar Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) grant and new state-of-the-art equipment.

Housed in the core facility of the Center for Biomedical Imaging (CBI), the CTNI is led by co-directors Stephan Anderson, MD, and Lee Goldstein, MD, PhD, who were awarded a competitive grant from the MLSC to help revamp the CBI and build upon BU’s world-renowned chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) research.

“While the broader mission of the Center is to look at all the organs of the body, we do have a particular interest in problems of the brain, specifically those that lead to injury of the brain and long-term degenerative problems associated with the brain,” said Dr. Goldstein, associate professor of psychiatry, radiology, neurology, and pathology & laboratory medicine, who also co-leads the Biomarker Core at the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.  “An area of focus is on neurotrauma and how it triggers CTE and exacerbates Alzheimer’s disease.”

In addition to their scientific focus, the Center serves the imaging needs of the scientific community, including academics from BU and beyond, corporate-sponsored research, as well as investigators who have a need for high-end human or animal imaging.

New & Improved Tools

Image of 3T Philips Ingenia Elition MRI
3T Philips Ingenia Elition MRI

The Center’s cutting-edge imaging tools includes a 3T Philips Ingenia Elition MRI, 9.4 Tesla Bruker BioSpec MRI, and a Verasonics Vantage 256 Ultrasound System.

The 3T Philips MRI provides unrivaled imaging quality as the human MRI clinical instrument. It features a 70 cm bore and full digital acquisition platform, as well as the most up-to-date software packages. The machine is able to acquire data incredibly quickly and efficiently.

“It has features that optimize the imaging of the brain. In addition to the brain, it can image every other part of the body,” explained Dr. Anderson, professor and vice-chairman for research in the department of radiology.

image of 9.4 Tesla Bruker BioSpec MRI
9.4 Tesla Bruker BioSpec MRI

The 9.4T MRI from Bruker is ideal for imaging small animals, thanks to its high spatial resolution and high signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio. Its cryogenically cooled surface coil is incredibly rare, and optimizes the machine for mouse brain imaging.

Additionally, the CTNI provides ultrasound capabilities with the highly flexible research platform, the Verasonics Ultrasound System.

Now, the Center is able to provide optimized brain and human body imaging that was not possible with the old CBI system, as well as a live animal imaging instrument with much more advanced capabilities.

“We’ve taken a quantum leap in the capabilities of the clinical system,” Dr. Anderson said. “So now we’re opening up new avenues for the neuroscience community to pursue.”

One-Stop Shop

Typically, revolutionary research instruments like the 3T Philips MRI and 9.4T Bruker MRI would be distributed among various centers focused on different arrays of diseases. Focusing on neurotrauma and neurodegenerative diseases in one general use facility places the CTNI apart from other scientific institutions, and right at the forefront of neurotrauma research.

“What we’ve done is paired state-of-the-art research imaging capabilities with world-class clinical, pathological, and research operation focusing in this area,” Dr. Goldstein said. “This is clearly the best facility in the world for doing this type of work.”

The CTNI is open for business to those looking for these advanced imaging capabilities, from researchers in biomedicine and neuroscience to software engineering and magnetic resonance physics.

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