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Florida Atlantic University and University MRI partner to “jump start” BRAIN research program

by John W. Mitchell, Senior Correspondent | November 12, 2015
Alzheimers/Neurology Medical Devices MRI Population Health X-Ray
Courtesy of FAU
A five-year research agreement recently announced between Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and University MRI (UMRI) will give a team of scientists access to 3T MR and MR-guided focused ultrasound technology for neuroscience research.

“The partnership brings together a multidisciplinary team and facility found only at major medical schools and teaching hospitals that usually requires years to assemble,” Dr. Fred Steinberg, medical director at UMRI, told HCB News. “This partnership is an interim solution that allows the university to jump start the program.”

Steinberg said the agreement will allow researchers across a broad spectrum of specialties to study brain diseases. He said the partnership will also provide additional qualifications for FAU scientists to apply for basic science research grants and funding in the White House BRAIN INTIATIVE, launched by the White House in 2013.
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The public, private, and philanthropic investment BRAIN INTIATIVE includes five federal agencies. The human mind initiative intends to “treat, prevent and cure brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy and traumatic brain disorders," and has received at least $300 million in funding according to 2014 data.

Steinberg said the partnership benefits both researchers and patients alike. Patients will benefit from a multi-disciplinary team approach that may identify new biomarkers of health and disease and may offer new drug trial therapies, and the research is also expected to help recruit top faculty, post doctoral candidates, and Ph.D. students.

“Researchers will benefit from having a readily available 3T MRI for functional MRI studies of the brain, including BOLD imaging, diffusion tensor imaging, tractography, and brain morphometric imaging,” said Steinberg.

According to J.A. Scott Kelso, Ph.D. founder of FAU’s Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences, the access to the 3T fMRI will allow research not available on MRI machines commonly found in hospitals or radiology clinics. He also said multiple FAU scholarly disciplines will have access to the facility. These include: psychology, physiology, neurobiology, physics, statistics, linguistics, communication disorders, education, nursing, medicine, computer science, and engineering.

“In addition to basic research in cognitive, behavioral and affective neuroscience, our human brain imaging research will most likely include studies on a host of conditions related to aging and pain,” said Kelso. “This partnership will offer many opportunities for translational research and applications such as biomarkers, drug testing, and brain-computer interfaces.”

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