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What Are We Going to Do with a 10.5-Tesla Magnet?

After 10 long years of research, scientists at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) have successfully conducted a groundbreaking magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the whole human body at 10.5-Tesla, the strongest magnetic field strength ever to be used.

The new magnet creates highly-defined images of the body’s functions that will help physicians get a clearer and more in-depth look at specific conditions like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and cancer, and allow them to determine appropriate treatment plans.

Around 2008, CMRR received an $8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to start construction of the magnet in England. Later, the project was shipped to Duluth, MN and then driven over to CMRR’s campus. The researchers spent a number of years troubleshooting heating and electronic operations and testing on animals in order to determine proper human safety measures.

Proceeding this momentous accomplishment, CMRR scientists plan on spending the next five years using the magnet to study brain imaging through a $9.7 million NIH Brain Initiative grant. They will investigate “currently unavailable spatial scales in human brain studies” and focus on a wide range of neural elements, including “elementary circuits to whole brain function and structural connectivity.” Aside from deep studies into brain regions, they’ll also dedicate significant time to neurological diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

“We are all excited about it,” Kamil Ugurbil, Ph.D, told the university. “It’s been a long road leading up to this point.”

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