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GE, Mayo Clinic net $5.7M grant to bring brain MRI to smaller clinics

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | June 08, 2011
Artist's rendering of
a head-only MRI
system. (Credit: GE)
GE Healthcare and Mayo Clinic said Tuesday they netted a $5.7 million government grant to develop a prototype dedicated brain MRI scanner that could be used to diagnose neurological and psychiatric disorders at smaller clinics and rural hospitals.

A head-only MRI unit could address nearly 25 to 30 percent of all MRI imaging needs, while bringing down the cost of the equipment and possibly improving image quality and patient comfort, Jim Davies, general manager of GE's MRI business, said in a statement. A smaller and cheaper design also means the equipment could be accessible to millions more people in remote and rural settings or even for military applications, GE said.

The five-year grant comes courtesy of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, aspects of the National Institutes of Health.
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The purpose of the public-private partnership is for the researchers to better understand technical issues involved in creating a dedicated MRI scanner, and how it could be used to diagnose conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, traumatic brain injury, depression and autism.

"A smaller, lighter, dedicated head-only MRI system will have a huge positive impact on the field of psychiatry," Steve Williams, imaging sciences professor and founder of the neuroimaging department at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, said in a statement, noting the rapid advances in brain imaging over the past decade.

GE said it expects to have a working prototype developed over the next three years, which would then be tested in human clinical trials at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. over the last two years of the program.

Mayo Clinic's research team is led by Matt A. Bernstein, a medical physicist, and Dr. John Huston III, a neuroradiologist.

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