NIH funds new brain imaging center at San Francisco VA Medical Center

A $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to use towards the purchase of the latest in brain-imaging equipment has been received by the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

The new high-field MRI/MR spectroscopy system will be the centerpiece of a new center for the imaging of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Gulf War syndrome and more, said Michael Weiner, MD, who will serve as the new center's director.

"This is going to be the only high-field system in the world that is focused exclusively on neurodegenerative diseases," said Weiner, who is director of the Magnetic Resonance Unit at San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and a professor of radiology, medicine, psychiatry and neurology at the University of California, San Francisco.

"This system will allow us to see smaller structures in the brain," Weiner said. The system measures different chemicals in the brain non-invasively and without the use of dyes or tracers. For example, it can measure the levels of glutamate, the neurotransmitter suspected of playing a role in Alzheimer's disease, amytropic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Geherig's disease), and Parkinson's disease. "This is a unique resource," Weiner said.

The 4 Tesla high-field MRI/MR spectroscopy system is three times more powerful than the standard type of MRI in common use today. It will be used in particular for the early detection of Alzheimers--the most common disease of aging veterans and the elderly in general. The system will also be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment of the disease.

In addition to patient treatment, the center will conduct research expected to advance the field significantly by testing the newest drug treatments developed specifically for Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative disorders.

The $2 million grant comes from NIH's highly competitive Research Resources fund and w

Contact: Camille Mojica Rey
415-221-4810 x5100
University of California - San Francisco

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