Research Overview

The Hoglund Brain Imaging Center (HBIC) brings together a unique combination of biomedical imaging technologies under one roof. By providing an environment where basic and clinical imaging scientists can work together to integrate structural and functional approaches to the assessment of the brain in both health and disease, HBIC functions as a regional resource engaged in activities at the forefront of neuroscientific endeavors. HBIC brings together scientists from diverse disciplines such as Neurology, Neurosurgery, Radiology, Physiology, Psychiatry, Psychology, Physics, Engineering, Computing, Biochemistry, and Anatomy together in a highly collaborative and integrative environment to exploit new technologies for the study of the central nervous system.

HBIC technologies are primarily focused on research studies at basic and clinical translational levels.


HBIC Imaging Capabilities

 In 2010, the Center received a $2.88 million High End Instrumentation grant from the National Institutes of Health to purchse a new 3 Tesla Siemens Skyra Magnetic Resonance Imaging system - the largest grant received for a single piece of equipment at KU Medical Center in the past decade. The new MRI system scans the full body, expanding the center's previous focus on the brain to include research on the heart, spine, kidneys, upper and lower extremities and other parts of the body. The MRI system features technology produces higher quality data and high resolution structural and functional MRI, MR spectroscopy, and diffusion and perfusion imaging. Complementing this human system is a 9.4T Varian (Agilent) MRI system for animal studies.

HBIC is the only facility in the world with capabilities for whole-cortex adult magnetoencephalography (cMEG) and high-density fetal MEG. The center has a 151-channel, whole-head adult unit with capabilities for simultaneous recording of 156 channels of EEG. In a separate magnetically shielded room, an 83 channel high-density custom-designed unit can be used for fetal MEG and MCG studies or for cardiac and gastrointestinal physiology.

The Center's research infrastructure also includes a Ultrasound scanner (GE Logiq P5): This 2-D ultrasound with the 3.5C Thin Wide Band Convex Probe is capable of imaging the fetus, the fetal heart and recording the location (depth) and orientation of the fetal heart and head. It allows the acquisition and real time transmission of the ultrasound images to the ultrasound acquisition computer. HBIC also recently acquired an High Density Electroencephalography system  (HD EEG). The EGI GES 400 series includes the capability for 128 channel infant EEG or 256 channel adult EEG


Some of HBIC's research focuses on effects of health behavior decisions on overall quality of life. For example, how do seemingly simple decisions such as how much a woman exercises or eats during pregnancy affect the lifespan health patterning of her children? Similarly, life choices we make as adults have profound effects during aging. We have been using state-of-the-art imaging to explore the choices we make. For example, the Hoglund Brain Imaging Center is only one of three centers in the world to be able to record signals from the developing nervous system from babies in the womb using fetal magnetocardiography. We have also developed unique, non-invasive magnetic resonance spectroscopy techniques to measure brain chemicals. There is an increasing awareness that "fetal programming" during gestation has a vital long-term impact on health throughout life. Hoglund Brain Imaging Center scientists have discovered that excessive maternal weight and weight gain during pregnancy is harmful to babies. We have also shown that maternal exercise and the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA can reduce these harmful effects.

 At the other end of the life span, we are using magnetic resonance spectroscopy to explore brain health changes in aging, such as brain energy production, oxidative stress and inflammation, each of which can be modified with  medication or behavior. Our outstanding team of physicists has shown that levels of important brain antioxidants such as glutathione, which is related to cognitive function, fall as we get older, especially in Alzheimer's disease. However, something as simple as increasing exercise can increase glutathione levels. We believe that this discovery could lead to other nutraceutical or pharmaceutical treatments for preserving brain function. These findings allow us to better understand cognitive decline and diseases of aging, and to test the effectiveness of novel treatments.

 Despite increasing evidence that better lifestyle choices are undoubtedly beneficial both early and later in life, people often do not choose wisely. Daily life involves a complex array of choices that require us to evaluate immediate benefit, e.g., the pleasure of eating a rich meal, vs. the long term negative health consequences of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

 Hoglund Brain Imaging Center scientists are using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to understand how different people use the same information and yet come up with different choices. We expect that understanding individual motivation will lead to strategies to encourage positive changes in behavior. These studies have implications for encouraging healthy behavior as well as for dissuading unhealthy behaviors.

Research discoveries

Within the past thirteen years since it was established, critical discoveries have been made and facilitated by Hoglund Brain Imaging Center in regard to diseases and medical conditions and concerns. These findings are being investigated with great vigor through larger clinical trials to determine their impact on public health. These include:

Babies: Prenatal studies focus on developmental programming and could have a significant impact on the long-term health of future generations. We have shown that life-style choices during pregnancy contributes to improved nervous system development in babies, which can be detected before birth.

Obesity: Functional MRI is helping us understand how brain function contributes to diet success. This research could positively impact the lives of the two-thirds of Americans who are overweight or obese.

Smoking: Using fMRI, we have shown that smokers are more sensitive to psychological punishment than non-smokers. Moreover, this sensitivity increases with cigarette craving. We are investigating whether relieving this punishment, by behavioral strategies such as exercise, can help in quitting smoking.

Children and marketing: When shown food logos, obese children showed significantly less brain activation than the healthy-weight children in regions associated with cognitive control, providing evidence that obese children may be more vulnerable to the effects of food advertising.

Consumer behavior: Using advanced functional MRI, we learn how people make decisions on controversial food technologies as artificial growth hormones or cloned food products. Results predict how a consumer chooses between lower price and avoiding these technologies.

Alzheimer's disease: Scans show that exercise has a positive effect on brain decline in Alzheimer's disease, which currently affects an estimated 5.3 million Americans.

Multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, or diabetes: Anti-oxidant levels are lower in patients with multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, or diabetes, suggesting elevated oxidative stress.

Brain cancers: Noninvasive brain imaging measures of molecules that are essential in cancer metabolism allow us to monitor tumor growth and survival as well as to evaluate treatment efficacy in order to develop new treatment options.

Stroke: Sophisticated imaging tools can identify patients who might respond to intensive rehabilitation following stroke.

Traumatic brain injury: Imaging tools can be used to demonstrate efficacy of new drug treatments in animal models and in human survivors of traumatic brain injury.

 Discoveries such as these stand to make a lasting and positive difference in human health.

HBIC Impact on grant applications

The impact of the Hoglund Brain Imaging Center on the regional research landscape is immense. Its presence has led to academic collaboration in support of large multi-component center grant applications. An example of these collaborations is the Hoglund Brain Imaging Center's role as the Brain Imaging Core in the NIH-sponsored institutional research grants below.

Frontiers - The Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (CTSA Award)

Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (KIDDRC)  

Alzheimer's Disease Center  grant (ADCC)  which was awarded by the National Institutes of Health in 2011, making KU one of only 29 U.S. Universities with such centers.

The Kansas Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) and Translational Core Center, a  a five-year P30 Center grant awarded to KUMC in 2015 by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases that provides $5.4 million in funding to support innovative biomedical research cores and a robust pilot and feasibility program

Such grant programs will promote the development of young faculty scientists as strong independent researchers numerous neurological disease and other conditions.

Patient Care

The Hoglund Brain Imaging Center also plays an important role in clinical care of patients. The center maintains a close relationship with The University of Kansas Hospital and previously provided clinical  services and to develop advanced imaging procedures for specific clinical needs, including epilepsy and Parkinson's disease.

Last modified: Oct 14, 2016