NYU School of Medicine attracts a powerful MRI machine

ibly important to the future of our understanding of how the brain works," says Robert Grossman, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Radiology at NYU School of Medicine. "They will ultimately help us find answers to some of the most challenging questions that face the medical profession."

New MRI Applications with High-Field Magnets
Dr. Helpern is the Principal Investigator of a $2 million grant recently awarded to the medical center from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which will help purchase the 7-Tesla magnet. Thirteen years ago, he led a team of scientists that designed and installed the world's first 3-Telsa MRI system specifically for brain research. "People always wonder why we need bigger magnets, and I always point out that using a bigger, more powerful magnet is like using an electron microscope as opposed to a conventional bench-top light microscope," says Dr. Helpern, who led the design team for the 7-Tesla shield and who will oversee the installation and operation of the new machine. "The detail with which we can see things with a stronger magnet is incomparable. It puts us in an entirely different realm of resolution."

MRI machines work by causing certain atomic nuclei to wobble or resonate and this movement is picked up by a detection system. The element with the most sensitive nucleus is hydrogen, which is abundant in living tissues. (Water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen.) Lower-field strength magnets, which are used routinely to provide images of the body, are mainly picking up variations in the concentration and physical characteristics of water in the body. These variations are stored in a computer and analyzed, producing a three-dimensional image. Higher field magnets like the 7 Tesla can be used for imaging and for measuring the amounts of various biochemicals, which is called magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS).

Higher field magnets permit the detection of many more elements,

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

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