Huntington Medical Research Institutes (HMRI) opened the first clinical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS) laboratories in the western United States. HMRI has been one of the premier centers for MR research over the last 3 decades, providing critical insight into cardiovascular diseases, chemical and metabolic changes of neurodegenerative diseases, and mechanisms and growth factors of cancer. Over the years, the Advanced Imaging and Spectroscopy Center has been dedicated to providing training for physicians, scientists and technologists from all over the world in advanced magnetic resonance spectroscopy techniques. In addition, HMRI co-sponsors postdoctoral fellowships with the California Institute of Technology through the Boswell Fellowship in a collaborative effort to develop technologies that will improve medical care and treatment.
On July 6th, 2015, the Imaging Center installed its new 3Tesla MR scanner. This stronger, state-of-the-art magnet allows for better resolution as well as faster imaging times. This is a broadband system, so not only will HMRI be able to do everything it currently does using its 1.5T system (which only consists of proton (1H) imaging and spectroscopy), but also will be able to image other nuclei like carbon-13 (13C) to detect brain metabolism in different neurological diseases, and phosphorus-31 (31P) to study energy of the heart muscle. In the future, HMRI foresees tapping into sodium imaging for migraine studies as well as fluorine for lung imaging.
The Imaging Program is central to HMRI’s strategic plan moving forward. The new scanner will not only advance MR research, it will allow the Cardiovascular, Neurosciences, Metabolism, Tissue Engineering, Liver, and Immunology programs to use imaging and spectroscopy as a tool to further their research efforts. Along with Immunology and Metabolism, the Advanced Imaging and Spectroscopy Center will function collaboratively and will develop internal collaborations and support of other research programs at HMRI.