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MRI scanner to propel cutting-edge research across campus

By Karene Booker
Reprinted from Cornell Chronicle, June 8, 2012

Workers move the MRI scanner into place through a cutout in the wall of MVR Hall

A powerful magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner has just been delivered to the East Wing of Martha Van Rensselaer Hall. By the fall, researchers will be able to obtain detailed images with rich tissue contrasts noninvasively and without using ionizing radiation.

The 3 Tesla GE750 MRI scanner is well suited for a broad range of scientific studies for structural and functional investigations involving humans, small animals, plants and biomedical materials.

The scanner will help foster cross-disciplinary collaboration and innovative technology development among faculty from diverse fields such as biomedical engineering, neuroscience, behavioral science, and plant and animal science. It will also enhance Cornell’s resources for analyzing and visualizing research data, leading to new areas of investigation and expanding educational opportunities for the next generation of scientists.

“The MRI scanner fills the void of in vivo imaging capability on Ithaca campus and enhances Cornell’s competitiveness in research,” said Yi Wang, professor of biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering and Faculty Distinguished Professor of Radiology at Weill Cornell Medical College. Wang is the principal investigator for the National Institutes of Health MRI equipment grant and co-directs the new Cornell MRI Facility with Valerie Reyna, professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology.

“We expect this MRI research scanner will enable and stimulate various fundamental studies at the Ithaca campus, with potential for results to be translated into clinical practice at Weill Cornell and into healthier life commercialization opportunities in the CornellNYC Tech campus,” Wang added.

“The MRI scanner expands Cornell’s capacity to push the boundaries of research in the social, biological and physical sciences – and to integrate these sciences,” said Reyna. “This versatile tool makes it possible to observe the brain in action, creating opportunities for scientific innovation to improve the human condition. It will be an asset in attracting and retaining excellent faculty, enriching the educational experience for our students.”

The 3.0T MRI scanner is a resource for discovery across all domains, allowing researchers to look into structures and how humans function to better understand how we behave and how our health is determined, along with other research projects that might emanate from being able to have a scanner of this quality, said Alan Mathios, the Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Dean of the College of Human Ecology. “It provides a unique opportunity for the entire university to collaborate across many colleges to advance science and well-being.”

The Cornell MRI Facility is supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Human Ecology and Veterinary Medicine.

Karene Booker is an extension support specialist in the Department of Human Development.

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