NYU School of Medicine attracts a powerful MRI machine

In the coming month, 25 flatbed trucks will roll into New York City to deliver 420 tons of steel to New York University School of Medicine. The steel will surround a massive superconducting magnet that forms the center of a 7-Tesla MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine expected to be in operation in 2004 at the School of Medicine. It will be the most powerful MRI machine in the New York metropolitan area and one of only a handful of such big magnets available for clinical and basic research in the United States.

Joseph Helpern, Ph.D., Professor of Radiology and Director of the Center for High Field MR Research, and other researchers at the School of Medicine eagerly await the delivery of the steel shield and the magnet that will follow. He expects the MRI machine will allow researchers to obtain incredibly detailed snapshots of metabolic pathways in the living brain, leading to a far better understanding of how the brain's metabolism is affected by disease. This information could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of a variety of diseases, including multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease, which may help prevent the progression of these debilitating brain diseases.

The machine, which can scan the entire body, will be used initially in brain research at the School of Medicine. A few numbers illustrate the machine's power. The magnet has a "field strength" of 7 Tesla, weighs 30 tons, and holds some 420 kilometers of superconducting wire. Tesla, named after the famous inventor Nikola Tesla, is a unit of magnetic flux density that describes the "strength" of the magnet. One Tesla equals 10,000 Gauss. The Earth's magnetic field, which is strong enough to turn a needle on a compass, is 0.5 Gauss. A 7-Tesla magnet is 70,000 Gauss, or 140,000 times stronger than the earth's magnetic field. The octagon-shaped steel shield surrounding the magnet will contain its stray magnetic field.

"These high-field strength machines are incred

Contact: Pamela McDonnell
New York University Medical Center and School of Medicine

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