Team Receives Presidential BRAIN Initiative Grant to Revolutionize MRI Technology!

Smaller MRI coils provide much more detail about the surface of the brain, where thinking and learning take place, but less detail about the interior, as illustrated in these simulated vews from the top of the head on the right. David Feinberg image.

The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative is part of a new Presidential focus aimed at revolutionizing the understanding of the human brain and a team made up of researchers from UCSF, UC Berkeley, Harvard University and Duke University is proud to have received a major research grant in the highly competitive first wave of National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards to support President Obama’s initiative!

The project will advance the resolution of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), with the goal of increasing the detail in brain images more than 30 times over today's most powerful MRI scanners.  The research team, which includes UCSF’s Pratik Mukherjee, MD, PhD, UC Berkeley’s David Feinberg, MD, PhD, and collaborators from Harvard University and Duke University, will receive $1.4 million over three years. The team will work on designing MRI equipment capable of providing detailed images of large areas of the brain, especially focused on the outer layer or cortex, where most of the work involved with thinking and learning is done.

If successful, the new technology developed in this project will dramatically improve the ability to visualize the structures and functions of human brain cortex. As a new research tool, the technology will not only transform the understanding of networks within the human brain, but also provide potential high impact in the care of mental health, traumatic brain injuries, epilepsy and many other debilitating brain diseases and disorders.

President Obama’s $100 million BRAIN Initiative was launched to map the brain in order to get greater insight to how we think, learn and remember, and to better understand and treat diseases, including autism and schizophrenia.  In other words, researchers are working to “reverse-engineer the human brain.”

At UCSF and around the country, researchers are making great progress to have a better understanding of the human brain. In fact, we’re currently in what some refer to as the century of the brain, a period when researchers and radiologists will fully understand the basic biology and mechanics of such a complex organ.  The $47 million in grants announced by the NIH will help to achieve these goals.

To learn more about the grant and this new technology, which will have clinical applications for traumatic brain injury, autism and epilepsy, please click here.

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