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Ultra-high resolution MRI brain scanner opens at UC Berkeley

By December 13, 2023December 19th, 2023No Comments
Feinberg smiling, cutting a ribbon with giant scissors, surrounded by other smiling people.

David Feinberg cutting the ribbon for the NexGen 7T MRI brain scanner. Surrounding Feinberg (L to R) are Joseph Hansen, John Ngai, Udi Isacoff, and Andreas Schneck. Photo by Brandon Alexis Sanchez Mejia.

On December 1, 2023, UC Berkeley held the grand opening of the NexGen 7 Tesla (7T) MRI brain scanner, which was developed by an international team of scientists led by Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute (HWNI) member David Feinberg in partnership with Siemens. The ultra-high resolution scanner reveals up to 10 times more detail about the human brain than current 7T scanners and over 50 times more detail than the 3T scanners typically used at hospitals, placing UC Berkeley at the forefront of human brain imaging research.

Feinberg is an acting professor of neuroscience at UC Berkeley and president of Advanced MRI Technologies. His team in collaboration with scientists at Siemens, Erlangen Germany at Harvard and at MR CoilTech LTD, Glasgow, UK designed and built the new scanner with major funding from the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the UC Berkeley campus, and the Weill Neurohub.

The grand opening started with a ribbon cutting ceremony, with words from Feinberg, John Ngai (director of the NIH BRAIN Initiative and former HWNI faculty member), Katherine (Kathy) Yelick (vice chancellor for research, UC Berkeley), Andreas Schneck (Head of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Siemens Healthineers), and Ehud (Udi) Isacoff (director of HWNI). A representative from Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office, Joseph Hansen, was also in attendance.

The people named in the caption are smiling and standing in front of computer screens with brain MRI images on them, and the tube of the MRI scanner is visible behind them through a window. A lit-up sign behind them says “The magnet is on” over a door.

From L to R: Andreas Schneck, Kathy Yelick, John Ngai, David Feinberg, Joseph Hansen, Udi Isacoff, and HWNI faculty member Chunlei Liu at the grand opening of the NexGen 7T MRI brain scanner. Photo by Brandon Alexis Sanchez Mejia.

The ribbon cutting was followed by a day-long symposium, featuring talks about the development of the NexGen 7T scanner’s novel technology and its anticipated impacts on neuroscience. The ultra-high resolution imaging made possible by the NexGen 7T scanner will enable neuroscientists to explore new directions in research. The scanner allows for non-invasive observation of human brain activity in different layers of the cerebral cortex and microcircuits of cortical columns. It is expected to advance fundamental knowledge of the human brain and empower investigations into the causes of human brain disease.

The symposium also included a tour of the NexGen 7T scanner and opportunities for scientists to network and explore potential collaborations. The scanner will be available to neuroscientists across the Weill Neurohub collaboration of UC Berkeley, UCSF and the University of Washington, and as an international resource through the NIH BRAIN Initiative.

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