Producing a high magnetic field that is also very stable and uniform, the unique Series Connected Hybrid magnet is being put to work on NMR experiments never before possible.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, researchers observe how cocaine-like drug disrupts neural activity in rats.

Scientists are welcoming a new MRI machine at the National MagLab that provides the best spatial resolution available for human imaging, making it a powerful tool for nationwide, multi-site health research.

Manufactured by Siemens, the state-of-the-art, whole-body scanner is powered by a 3-tesla magnet (tesla is a unit of magnetic field strength). But it's not the machine’s main magnetic field — on a par with many hospital MRIs — that makes the instrument special. Rather, the unit features the most powerful gradient magnet fields available, which help generate very sharp images of very tiny anatomical structures.

“Gradients provide the high spatial resolution in MRI, and with the new system we get the localization we need for small structures,” said Joanna Long, director of the MagLab's Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy (AMRIS) facility at the University of Florida, where the new instrument is located.

For anyone who has been inside an MRI machine, the gradient magnetic fields are responsible for that unpleasant racket you hear; technicians trigger them to target different areas of the body. But they also help generate more precise images – in this case, around a millimeter in resolution, allowing scientists to see bundles of neurons inside the brain. (Learn more about how MRI machines work).

As one of a number of similar machines recently installed around the country, the new system will enable researchers working at AMRIS to participate in large-scale, multi-site health studies. For example, some AMRIS researchers are using the machine as part of a years-long study to track brain cognitive development in adolescents. Others will use it for research on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disorders. Glenn Walter, an associate professor in physiology and functional genomics at the University of Florida, is using it to develop MRI techniques to assess how effective drugs are at treating muscular dystrophy, a less invasive approach than muscle biopsy.

By allowing MagLab users to participate in such longitudinal studies, the $3 million system will yield high research dividends. “It's a really good example of how the magnetic resonance research program at the MagLab can leverage something bigger,” Long said.

To celebrate a trio of recent upgrades, including the new MRI machine, added dynamic nuclear polarization capabilities, and a new console for the 11-tesla MRI/S system, AMRIS hosted a reception and symposium this week.

Text by Kristen Coyne; Image courtesy of AMRIS.

The MagLab’s 21-tesla FT-ICR magnet can identify human proteins far more efficiently than commercial instruments, a boon for medical research.

Scientists using an MRI-friendly oxygen isotope have demonstrated a promising and safe method for identifying cancerous tumors.

Combining tremendous strength with a high-quality field, the MagLab’s newest instrument promises big advances in interdisciplinary research.

Research sheds important light on the fundamental process of cell division.

Scientists have discovered and characterized an unusual, complex natural product produced in worms, a finding that suggests a whole body of discoveries awaits.

Using an advanced technique, scientists discover that one of the most common substances in our everyday lives — glass — is more complex than we thought.

This week at the lab, Patricia Medeiros is fishing for answers using one of the lab’s ion cyclotron resonance (ICR) magnets.

Medeiros (pictured above, standing at right, with her grad students), an assistant professor of marine organic geochemistry at the University of Georgia (UGA), arrived Monday morning with one colleague, two graduate students, dozens of water samples from estuaries around Georgia’s Sapelo Island, and lots of questions. The team will spend the week analyzing the molecular composition of the dissolved organic matter (DOM) in the water, using the ICR Facility’s 9.4 tesla passively shielded magnet.

In collaboration with UGA microbiologist Mary Ann Moran, Medeiros is studying what different communities of bacteria are doing with this DOM. They are particularly interested in how bacteria chemically transform carbon from the ocean, a key step in the marine carbon cycle that is still not well understood.

That knowledge could help us understand and better prepare for future changes in the climate, said Medeiros. "We don’t know too much about how microbes interact with DOM. We do know that DOM plays an important role in the global carbon cycle, however."


By Kristen Coyne.

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