Imaging Core - Objectives and Aims

Co-Directors: Guido Gerig, PhD (Utah); Martin Styner, PhD (UNC)


Imaging Core - Schematic


The primary objective of the Neuroimaging Core is to serve the clinical projects utilizing image acquisition and processing technology (Project 1, Project 2, Project 3) for MRI imaging and for quantitative measurements of structural MRI (sMRI) and MR Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) and to prepare the quantitative results for analysis by the Biostatistics Core. The core will provide state-of-the-art high-field scanner MRI technology including optimized pulse sequences for imaging of neonates (3T Siemens Allegra head-only), adults (3T Siemens Trio) and animals (Bruker 9.4T high-field system). The core will provide well established and validated image analysis methods and also introduce novel methods dedicated to the needs of this project. This core is particularly important because of the need to provide imaging and quantitative methods of neuroimaging to serve several of the projects, the great track record of collaboration between Drs Gerig and Styner, as well as the excellent, well established collaboration between Radiology MRI Research and small animal imaging, Psychiatry, Biostatistics, the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Research Center and the Neuroimaging Analysis Laboratory, making it possible to pool the excellent complementary expertise of all groups.

The Neuroimaging Core processing will be shared between UNC, Utah and Yale using new capabilities of networked computing infrastructure and secure data transfer. The Core has profound experience with multi-center studies and processing data from other sites. The planned activities can substantially benefit from the strong expertise in neonatal MRI and image analysis, a special field where UNC has become a leading institution with several funded projects. The small animal imaging and image analysis activities will be supported by the expertise of three consultants and leaders in this field (Susumu Mori, John Sled, Michael Tyszka). Given the specialized expertise of our multi-disciplinary group and the close collaboration of our researchers in other large national programs of crucial importance for this project (BIRN, NA-MIC, NLM ITK), we expect to see a similar rapid development of animal imaging and related image analysis which is well documented by the preliminary data, leveraging our experience with development of novel image analysis methodology driven by challenging applications.

The service of the Imaging Core will include selection and development of optimal acquisition protocols, data transfer of image data to the image analysis lab, storing and archiving of clinical and animal study image data, 3D segmentation and quantitative analysis to obtain measurements of brain structures and pathways, rigorous validation and quality control, and preparation of resulting data for statistical analysis.

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