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Research Facilities

The principle resource for clinical radiology research consists of the department’s complement of radiographic, MR, CT, and molecular imaging systems. Additional clinical studies, as well as the bulk of the Dartmouth community’s basicscience imaging research, are conducted at several facilities, as described below.

NMR Center director, Risto Kauppinen, MD, PhD

The EPR Center

The Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) Center for the Study of Viable Systems is home to the world's first clinical EPR system, has been for over fifteen years a world leader in the development of biological and clinical applications for EPR spectroscopy, and plays a key role in international EPR research education and resource sharing. The center operates several laboratories, including an instrument-development facility at the Hanover campus, a small-animal research area within the NCCC (Rubin 6), and a clinical EPR facility in the Department of Radiation Oncology (Rubin 2). Directed since inception in 1992 by Dr. Harold Swartz, the EPR Center staff includes Dr. Nadeem Khan, Dr. Huagang Hou, Dr. Benjamin Williams, several adjunct faculty researchers, and a growing number of research associates and assistants.

The NMR Center

The Biomedical Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Research Center conducts basic research aimed at the development of MRI and MR spectroscopy (MRS) imaging techniques. A key focus is the use of MRS to identify and depict concentrations of metabolites which can be associated with specific tumor varieties. The resulting database of metabolic "fingerprints" may ultimately provide significant clinical tools for cancer staging and treatment monitoring. The center also provides support for the neuroscience program at Dartmouth College, with ongoing investigations of fMRI techniques based on hemodynamics and oxygenation to probe brain activation, and of MRI and MRS ‘biomarkers' for detection of acute brain injury—research which capitalizes on the neuroimaging background of Dr. Risto Kauppinen, director of the NMR Center since 2007.

The NMR Center operates a 7T Varian Unity-Inova high-field MRI scanner designed for rodent MRI and MRSpectroscopy. The capacities provided by the 7T unit are expected to be augmented later this year with the installation of a 9.4T large-bore animal MR scanner. This NIH-funded magnet will accommodate larger subjects than the existing 7T scanner, and offers improved sensitivity in both MRI and MRS modes, opening new possibilities for NMR imaging research and for affiliated Dartmouth researchers in neuroscience, cardiology and oncology. Dr. Kauppinen and the Department of Radiology welcome the recent arrival of Dr. Barjor Gimi. Dr. Gimi, from the University of Texas, is a multi-disciplinary specialist in molecular microimaging with extensive background in encapsulation nanotechnology.

The Advanced Imaging Center (AIC)

The Advanced Imaging Center at DHMC provides imaging support for NIH-funded studies, clinical trials and animal research studies, typically involving multi-disciplinary programs in cancer, vascular, and neurologic imaging. Specific projects include hybrid imaging (e.g., NIR-MR and MR elastography), novel contrast agents for early cancer detection, fMRI brain-activation studies, and accurate image-based treatment guidance for heart disease and cancer. AIC facilities include a dedicated Philips whole-body 3T MRI scanner, hybrid MRI-Near Infrared imaging with micro-imaging capabilities, micro-PET, small-animal CT, and a microCT specimen scanner.

The AIC includes the Neuroimaging Research Center, and the Alternative Breast Cancer Imaging Center (ABCIC), which supports research programs for the development of alternative breast-cancer imaging modalities, and serves as an imaging clinic for associated patient trials. With support from the National Institutes of Health, the AIC was opened in 2006 as a joint venture by Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital, The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, the Thayer School of Engineering, and a number of clinical departments at DHMC. John Peiffer is the AIC Managing Director; Dr. Keith Paulsen Professor of Engineering and of Radiology, is Scientific Director.

Cancer Imaging at NCCC

The goal of the Cancer Imaging and Radiobiology (CIR) Research Program at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center is to foster a collaborative environment that promotes the incorporation of imaging, radiobiology, biophysics, and engineering approaches into the development and evaluation of new cancer diagnostic and treatment strategies. The CIR program is co-directed by Thayer's Dr. Keith Paulsen and Dr. Harold Swartz, Radiology's Scientific Research Director. The program utilizes the research labs at NCCC's Rubin and Borwell facilities, which include a variety of spectrographic and other imaging equipment, as well as the Brain Imaging Laboratory, where the Radiology faculty has participated in fMRI neuroimaging research.

Thayer School of Engineering

One of the key areas of research at Dartmouth's Thayer School is medical imaging, especially in the development of new techniques for cancer detection and staging. The alternative breast-cancer imaging (ABCI) program has been a central element in this work for over a decade. Related projects aim at developing "hybrid" platforms in which established modalities (e.g., MRI, CT and ultrasound) are combined with functional-imaging techniques such as near-infrared or microwave spectroscopy, electrical impedance tomography, or modified MR systems designed to measure tissue elasticity. Additional hybrid imaging studies underway include the use of fluorescence imaging coupled to MR and CT. Drs. Poplack, Weaver, Cheung and others from the Department of Radiology participate in Thayer imaging research as consultants, clinical directors, or co-principal investigators.

DISCOVERY

The Dartmouth Initiative for SuperComputing Ventures in Education and Research (or "DISCOVERY") is a supercomputing server cluster available to the Dartmouth research community. It consists (as of January 2010) of an 888- CPU Beowulf/Linux cluster with 3 Tb of memory, more than 35 TB of disk space, and high-speed Infiniband interconnects. Much of the radiology research at Dartmouth—including most of Thayer's medical imaging work, and the alternative breastimaging modalities program in particular—involves complex non-linear image reconstruction which would not be possible without DISCOVERY's computational power.

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