An imaging facility of ~7,000 sq. ft. is located in the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine, which currently houses a 9.4‑T Varian MR system and a 3‑T Siemens MR scanner, both of which are dedicated to basic research. A physiology/optic lab, a chemistry lab, an electronic lab as well as human interview rooms are connected with MR laboratories. Importantly, the animal housing facility directed by DLAR is located in the same building. Other MR facilities are also accessible within Pittsburgh research community.
|Optics Lab||MR Lab|
The physiology laboratory is focused on investigating neurovascular and neurometabolic coupling. This laboratory is equipped with a two-photon laser-scanning microscope (DeepSee Spectral Physics Tunable IR Laser + Prairie system) for in vivo cellular fluorescence imaging (cell body, glia, capillary during resting and activation status); an epi-fluorescence macroscope (MVX-10, Olympus, Tokyo, Japan) with a digital cooled-CCD camera (CoolSnap HQ2, Photometrics, Princeton, NJ) and 10-bit CCD camera (Tokyo Electric Industry, Japan) for intrinsic optical imaging, flavoprotein autofluorescence imaging, and laser speckling imaging; 16-channel electrophysiological recorder (Plexon Inc) with micromanipulators (Narishige & alpha-Omega) for obtaining field potential and multi-unit activity; a laser Doppler flowmeter (PeriFlux 4001, Perimed, Järgälla, Sweden) for obtaining perfusion; and oxygen polarographic systems with picoammeters (Keithley, Cleveland) and Clark-type electrodes (Unisense, Aarhaus, Denmark) for measuring oxygen tension. Recording of all physiological data with Biopac Acknowledge and imaging software is synchronized with somatosensory and visual stimulation (Master 8 and ISO-Flex, A.M.P.I., Israel & VSG2/5, Cambridge Research Systems, UK). All animal preparation and physiological maintenance equipment are equipped, including a capnometer (Ultima, Datex Omeda, Finland), pressure-driven ventilator (Kent Scientific, CT), vaporizer, stereotaxic frames, EEG, and blood gas analyzer (Nova Biomedical, MA).
Our facility houses one animal and one human MR imaging/spectroscopy system: a Varian/Agilent 9.4-Tesla/31-cm horizontal bore system; a Siemens 3.0-Tesla/60-cm head-only system. Also, a human 7-T whole body MR instrument as well as various human imaging systems can be accessible.
9.4-T/31-cm Varian/Agilent Animal MR
This system was acquired at 2003, and upgraded at 2011, funded by NIH S10RR17239 and S10RR026503 grants. The 9.4-T laboratory is designed to optimally perform physiological and functional studies; experiments can be prepared from surgeries to MR without disconnecting any life-supporting lines, and visual and somoatosensory stimuli can be delivered into the magnet bore, similar to human scanner setup. In addition, the 9.4-T lab is directly connected into the physiology lab for combining MR and conventional physiological studies. For inquiry of 9.4-T system usage and capability, please contact Seong-Gi Kim, Director or Kristy Hendrich, MR Manager.
The 9.4-T/31-cm actively-shielded magnet (Magnex) is interfaced with a Varian/Agilent DirectDrive console with eight independent receiver channels and five independent transmitter channels driven by a Linux workstation running VnmrJ 3.2. This system is equipped with multiple RF amplifiers including one 2 kW (4x500 Watt) broadband amplifier and one 1 kW broadband amplifier, and three gradient sets driven by Copley gradient amplifiers. The largest gradient set is an actively shielded 21-cm diameter Magnex gradient set capable of a maximum gradient strength of 230 mT/m with a rise time of 375 microseconds, a 12-cm actively shielded Magnex gradient insert with a maximum gradient strength of 400 mT/m and a rise time of 120 microseconds, and a 6-cm gradient set with a maximal gradient strength of 1000 mT/m and a rise time of 100 microseconds. In addition to home-built surface RF coils, this instrument is equipped with multiple commercial birdcage coils with inner diameters of 3.8 cm, 6.3 cm, 7.2 cm, and 14 cm (Varian Inc; Rapid Biomedical; Nova Medical). Some homogenous coils are double-tuned and/or equipped with active RF decoupling for two-coil operation. Customized imaging/spectroscopy sequences implemented by our laboratory include: echo planar imaging, spiral imaging, functional MRI, two-coil arterial spin labeling, magnetization transfer, chemical exchange-based imaging, venographic imaging, short-echo-spectroscopy, and various standard imaging and spectroscopy sequences.
The instrument is equipped with a Master-8 stimulator for somatosensory stimulation (A.M.P.I), a computer projector for visual stimulation (NEC MT-1055), MR-compatible EEG system, a Biopac for recording all physiological information in real time (MP-150), a small animal monitoring and gating system for maintaining body temperature (SAI Instrument), and various life-supporting equipment including capnometer, ventilator, vaporizer, blood pressure recorder, and infusion pumps.
3-T/60-cm Siemens Allegra System
The Neuroscience Imaging Center at the the University of Pittsburgh has a state-of-the-art 3 Tesla Siemens Allegra head scanner with a gradient coil, which operates at a maximum gradient strength of 4 gauss/cm and a slow rate of 400 T/m/sec. High-magnetic field and high-performance gradient coil allow scientists to obtain high spatial and temporal resolution functional images. In addition to a standard human head coil, 16-cm and 12-cm inner diameter homogeneous coils are available for imaging large animals. Visual stimulus presentation (field of view: 26º) is achieved by a dedicated computer running E-Prime in conjunction with rear projection, and an AVOTEC headphone system is accessible for auditory presentation. An In Vivo physiological monitoring system (ECG, oxygen saturation, heart rate and respiration rate), an ASL in-scanner Eye Tracking system, and an Infrared patient monitoring system are also available. For human researchers, a full-scale mock scanner simulator is in place at the NIC. For non-human imaging researchers, a dedicated animal preparation room is available adjacent to the scanner room, and animals can be transferred into the scanner room through an animal-dedicated door from the animal preparation laboratory. For more information, please check the NIC web.
Electronics and Chemistry Facilities
The Neuroimaging Laboratory houses an electronic shop that is used to construct RF coils and animal cradles needed for our MR studies. The shop contains an Agilent RF network analyzer, Fluke RCL meter and function generator, a Tektronix 500 MHz digital oscilloscope, Morris tuning meters, stores of variable and fixed capacitors, soldering equipment, a drill press, band saw, table saw and hand tools, etc. need to construct the requisite RF hardware. The Neuroimaging Laboratory has the expertise to home-build animal cradles, MR-compatible head holders, and RF coils. A chemistry lab is equipped with a fume hood, pH meter, a scientific balance, ultra low temperature freezer, etc for preparing and storing samples.
All of the imaging instruments have been networked via Ethernet allowing efficient transfer of data. Sufficient data storage space is available. Laser printers and pdf scanner are also available.
Other MR Instruments Available
The Pittsburgh community has many MR systems our lab can access. The most significant one in the Magnetic Resonance Research Center at the Department of Radiology is a 7-T whole-body Siemens MRI, which has capability of 32 receive channels and 8 independent transmitter channels. Two 3-T Siemens Tim Trio systems (40 mT/m peak gradient strength and 150 mT/m/sec slew rate) equipped with 32 receive channels are also available. In addition, the Pittsburgh NMR Center for Biomedical Research has a 7-T/20-cm and a 4.7-T/40-cm Bruker MR system.