SA Circle

Small Animal Imaging Services

Initiate an Imaging Study:

As UNC imaging core facility, the BRIC-SAI Facility team strives to provide comprehensive imaging support for biomedical researches and encourage a wide range of collaborations between various groups to explore new imaging techniques, novel imaging contrast agents, or new applications in cancer research. Our current imaging service includes:

• Optical/Bioluminescence
• Ultrasound

To initiate a study, you will need to fill out a Project Registration Form, where you need to briefly describe the project and resources you need from the SAI Facility, or indicate that you need to discuss with SAIF staff to determine an appropriate imaging strategy. The project will be reviewed by the SAI scientists for feasibility and scientific merit. You can also directly contact the BRIC-SAI Facility manager, Dr. Hong Yuan ( to disscuss the project that you would like to conduct in the facility.


BRIC imaging services are a recharge operation and must charge fees to cover the cost of operation. These charges are estimated based on the capital equipment purchase, service contracts, expendables, and staffs who operate and maintain the equipment.

Machine Time Charges for each imaging modality.

Small Animal Group


Bruker 9.4T MRI.jpg

The Bruker 9.4T horizontal bore scanner is a dedicated system for small animal studies. The higher sensitivity resulting in greater spatial and/or temporal resolution from the 9.4T magnet is critical for in vivo animal imaging.

Main advantages of this system include:

• Actively-shielded superconducting wide-bore magnet with 9.4 T field strength

• Bore diameter of 30 cm

• Gradient strength of 200 mT/m and Max slew rate of 640 T/m/s

• Linearity 13/ 10 cm DSV: < ± 3%, < ± 2%

• ParaVision® software package provides a framework for multi-dimensional MRI/MRS data acquisition, reconstruction, analysis and visualization

• Numerous ready to use MRI methods and sequences available

• Small animal anesthesia and monitor system available

Various coils available for different MR studies, including:

• 35mm QuadTransceiver mouse coil

• 25mm QuadTransceiver mouse coil

• 4-channel phase array coil with 72mm Transmitter volume coil

• 1H/13C double-tuned Linear surface Transceiver coil

• 1H/31P double-tuned Linear surface Transceiver coil

• 1H/17O double-tuned Linear 43mm Transceiver rat coil


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Sample Images (click to enlarge):

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FMT 2500

IVIS® Kinetic Optical System


The IVIS Kinetic optical imaging is a real time, fast imaging system enabling acquisition of biologically relevant events within milliseconds. It can perform both quantitative luminescence and fluorescence as a standard high signal to noise imager and as a high speed imager.

Main advantages of this system include:

• Highly sensitive EMCCD camera for in vivo and in vitro imaging of fluorescence and bioluminescence

• Rapid image readout speeds with frame transfer technology

• Light-tight injection port, supporting a syringe injector system for real time compound and/or substrate administration

• Possible uses: Oncology Research, Infectious Disease, Inflammation, Metabolic Disease, Neurology, Gene Therapy, Stem cell Biology, Cardiovascular Disease, Drug metablism

• Adjustable field of view 5 cm2 -12.5 cm2

• Highly sensitive EMCCD camera

• CCD camera is thermoelectrically cooled to -80 C for low dark current and low noise

• 10 position excitation filters

• 25 emission filters ranging from 500nm-800nm

• Fast frame rate for real time imaging

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Sample Images (click to enlarge):

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FMT-2500 in vivo optical imaging system FMT_2500.jpg

The FMT 2500 system (VisEn, Inc.) is a 3D tomography in vivo optical imaging system, which can provide much more accurate quantification and spatial distribution of fluorescent probes in live animals or specimen. The system combined with NIR fluorescence probes will enable scientists understand biological targets, processes and pathways in physiologically-relevant environments non-invasively, and monitor disease progression and treatment efficacy longitudinally.

Main advantages of this system include:

• A major advantage of this instrument is the ability to tomographically image and quantify fluorescence probes throughout the entire depth of mouse models with high sensitivity and accuracy to pico-molar concentration

• Possible co-registration with microCT, PET, SPECT or MRI.

• Measure and monitor multiple biological processes simultaneously with 3D image generation.

• Imaging field of view: 3x6 cm; resolution: 2 mm

• 3D tomographic imaging

• Four laser channels for various NIR probes:

• 635 nm Channel (Excitation), Emission range = 650 - 670 nm

• 670 nm Channel (Excitation), Emission range = 690 - 740 nm

• 745 nm Channel (Excitation), Emission range = 770 - 800 nm

• 790 nm Channel (Excitation), Emission range = 805+ nm

Some fluorescent probes can be obtained from the following link:

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Sample Images (click to enlarge):

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Click here to find out wavelength information for some common fluorophores.

GE eXplore Vista PET.jpg

The GE eXplore Vista small animal PET/CT system provides high sensitivity functional imaging along with anatomical images within a single instrument. The 7cm bore is suitable for mice and rats up to 400g. Both static and dynamic studies are possible with time-uptake analysis. Currently, 18F-FDG, Cu-64, and 124I are approved and available for use, but studies requiring other longer-lived positron emitters may be discussed.

Main advantages of the system include:

• The nature of good quantitation and functionality in PET imaging allow studies for tumor biology, pharmacodynamic studies of new drugs, such as effect on blood perfusion, drug efficacy, and pharmacokinetic studies.

• Dual-layer phoswich PET detector modules

• Depth-of-interaction technology

• Dual Ring PET scanner, 18 detectors per ring

• High resolution; Axial resolution of about 1.2 mm in the center of FOV

• Axial field of view of 4.6 cm

• Transaxial field of view of 7 cm

• CT X-ray source energy: 4kV-50kV

• CT X-ray current: 0 – 1 mA

• FBP, 2D-OSEM reconstruction algorithms available for PET imaging


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Sample Images (Click to enlarge):

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GE eXplore speCZT system SPECT.jpg

The GE eXplore speCZT system is the first full-ring solid-state detector small animal SPECT/CT system. The system is featured with: Solid-state CZT detector technology, Stationary, full-ring, 10 detector design, Interchangeable, rotating cylindrical collimators (Multi-slit with 80mm axial FOV, full 360-degree coverage, and multi-pinhole with high resolution, full 360-degree coverage).

Main advantages of the system include:

• High sensitivity and improved dynamic imaging and low activity (<1mCi) scan capabilities with full ring detector;

• High energy resolution from the CZT detector with gating

• Multi-isotope studies. The system will be highly beneficial for drug biodistribution studies, cardiac studies, and other molecular imaging studies.

• High resolution: Central spatial resolution 1 mm with mouse pin-hole collimator

• Four collimators:

o Mouse-Slit collimator: 55mm axial coverage x32mm diameter

o Mouse-Pinhole collimator: up to 250mm axial field of view, 32mm transaxial field of View

o Rat-slit

o Rat-pinhole

• High Sensitivity : .05% - .1%

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Sample Images (Click to enlarge):




The imaging system, Vevo-2100 from Visualsonics Inc., offers many new imaging features that the older model, Vevo-770, does not have. The new system definitely can provide better imaging support for many biological studies. The system is located in the new imaging lab inside the Genetic Medicine Vivarium (Room UB61). Users who want to use the Vevo-2100 system have to have their animals housed in the GM Vivarium.

Main advantages of this system include:

• Multiple foci covering bigger field of view;

• Faster B-mode frame rate (>250 fps vs. average 60 fps in Vevo770) for fast 3-D imaging Improved Doppler imaging and quantification Solid-state array transducer

• Large field of view (max. 36x36mm)

• Frame rates in 2D up to 740 fps (for a 4 x4 mm field of view)

• 30 µm resolution

• Can be exported as: TIFF, BMP, AVI uncompressed AVI, MS Video9 and DICOM

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Sample Images (click to enlarge):

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MicroCT Imaging System

GE eXplore CT120


Carbon nanotube (CNT) based microCT imaging system CNT_CT.jpg

The CNT-based microCT system was built by Dr. Otto Zhou’s lab at the UNC physics Department. The unique feature of this microCT is the carbon nanotube based X-ray source, which offers many attractive features including electronic programmability and fast switching. It is perfect for mouse lung imaging study.

Main advantages of the system include:

• System can provide high resolution (<100 m)

• Prospective gating for mouse lung or cardiac imaging with much less dose

• CT X-ray current: 0 – 1.5 mA

• CT X-ray source energy: 50kVp

• Focal Spot Size: 93mm x 109 mm

• 39mm x 39mm FOV

• Cone beam Feldkamp reconstruction algorithms

Sample studies

-Mouse lung imaging on genetically engineered mouse lung cancer model
-Mouse cardiac imaging
-Mouse colonography on genetically enginnered mouse colon cancer model

Sample Images:

GE eXplore CT120SpeCT

High-performance, high-throughput small animal In Vivo MicroCT scanner designed for high-quality scanning for a wide variety of applications. It is designed to help visualize, quantify, and characterize anatomical parameters in small animals such as mice and rats. Its table design, versatile bed mount and built-in software support allows image registration with other imaging modalities. (

Main advantages of the system include:

• High Ct resolution with respiratory gating

• CT X-ray source energy: 70 to 120kV

• CT X-ray current: 0-50mA

• Bore diameters 30mm for mouse, 75mm for rat

• Modified Feldkamp conebeam reconstruction

• Allows for multiple bed scans for whole body images

Sample Images (click to enlarge):



The SCANCO µCT 40 scanner is a desktop cone-bean X-ray scanner. It can provide high resolution of 6 µm. In addition to the high resolution capabilities, it also offers a larger specimen size (36 mm diameter, 8 cm specimen length).

Main advantages of this system include:

• Highest resolution available at 6 µm (2000 projections per rotation, 2048 x 2048 pixels)

• Bone density calibrated so perfect for bone or dental study

• CT X-ray voltage 50-70 kVp

• CT X-ray current 150 µA

• No shielding required

• Detector 2048x252 elements, 24 µm pitch Resolution 6 µm nominal, 9 µm (10% MTF @ 12 mm Ø)

• Specimen Size up to 38 mm in diameter, 80 mm in length

• Software offers complete 64-bit imaging solution, online/offline reconstruction, sophisticated 2D/3D evaluation, 3D-visualization/animation, and archiving data

Sample studies:

Developing Gemosil Technology for New Biomaterials

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Sample Images (click to enlarge):

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