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PHYS 8990 Topic

Dynamic Contrast Enhanced MRI and Biological/Biomedical Applications

Qun Zhao

Dynamic Contrast Enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) using contrast agent (e.g. superparamagnetic iron oxide or SPIO nanoparticles) has been the subject of extensive research since the early 1990s. For DCE-MRI, a series of MRI images were taken before, during, and after the injection of an MR contrast agent. Conventional MR imaging can be considered as a snapshot at a given time whereas DCE MRI can be thought as a movie which is the series of images. From the analysis of time series data of DCE-MRI, information about blood volume and vascular permeability which are physiological parameters associated with the tumor can be obtained. Novel DCE-MRI applications include cancer diagnosis, treatment evaluation, drug delivery, molecular and cellular imaging etc.

On the other hand, the paramagnetic nanoparticles can be used to label stem cell or cancer cells, providing researchers with the ability to monitor the migration and homing of the cells in living tissues with MRI. Researchers have been investigating different methods to provide positive contrast, such as gradient-compensation techniques (White Marker), Off-resonance techniques (IRON), and Post-processing techniques (SGM), etc.

In this project, with availability of a top quality 7 Tesla and a 3 Tesla magnet located at the BioImaging Research Center (BIRC), Coverdell Center, students will have an opportunity to learn fundamentals on contrast-enhanced MR imaging using paramagnetic nanoparticles, as well as post-processing techniques to generate positive contrast.

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