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Hoglund Biomedical Imaging Center upgrades scanning abilities with $1.5 million NIH grant

Equipment upgrade provides cutting-edge resources to researchers across the region

Two researchers standing in front of upgraded scanning equipment
The Hoglund Biomedical Imaging Center earned a $1.5 million National Institutes of Health High-End Instrumentation grant to upgrade the electronics of its MRI scanner used for research with animal models.

A recent major equipment upgrade at the Hoglund Biomedical Imaging Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center has cemented Hoglund’s status as the premier imaging resource for medical researchers across the institution, state, region, and beyond.

Hoglund earned a $1.5 million National Institutes of Health High-End Instrumentation grant to upgrade the electronics of its MRI scanner used for research with animal models. The scanner’s previous electronics were original to the imaging center, which opened nearly two decades ago. The NIH’s High-End Instrumentation grant program helps fund the purchase of major pieces of shared equipment that will benefit an entire research community.

“We’ve got the latest and greatest scanner for research using animal models available really - anywhere. When you couple that with the particular imaging expertise that we have at the Hoglund Biomedical Imaging Center, it really is a unique, wonderful resource for researchers,” said Janna Harris, Ph.D., assistant professor, anatomy and cell biology, and director of the Animal MRI Core at Hoglund.

Emphasizing that Hoglund is a regional resource available to academic institutions and industry, Harris said all preclinical researchers at KU Medical Center and across the region are in line to benefit from these enhanced capabilities.

“Ultimately, the ability to support cutting-edge, translational research benefits patients,” she said.

A force for translational research

Hoglund serves researchers from the medical center’s schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions as well as from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Children’s Mercy, Kansas State University and other institutions in the surrounding area. The imaging center is affiliated with major research programs and centers such as the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Research and Translation Core Center. 

Credited with supporting more than 100 projects each year, Hoglund is a one-stop shop for any researcher who needs imaging expertise and equipment for a study. Areas of research supported by Hoglund include Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, stroke, cancer, depression, smoking, addiction and a host of others.

A team of experts at the imaging center, including faculty with diverse areas of expertise, technologists, nurses, and research associates and assistants, can help researchers evaluate the feasibility of their studies, apply for grant support and design studies. Specialists at Hoglund also can assist scientists with project implementation, data management, analysis and interpretation of results, and manuscript publication.

With upgraded capabilities in place, the imaging center is well positioned to continue to support and advance translational research in Kansas and beyond.

“No one in the region can match the preclinical imaging capabilities we offer,” said Justine Kigenyi, MBA, FACHE, administrative director at Hoglund. “We also are in an elite group of institutions across the nation that have the capability to support preclinical research and translate those studies into clinical imaging research all under the same roof and using the latest technology.”

New capabilities

Hoglund administrators compared the upgraded system to moving from a flip phone to a smart phone. In addition to providing better data, faster, the new system offers scientists access to the latest library of imaging techniques, including some that weren’t available on the previous system. The system also gives scientists the ability to create new MRI techniques over time by programming it to collect new kinds of data.

The improved interface allows users to select and click options, versus entering actual programming code, making the new system much easier and more efficient to operate. Because the system is easier to use, students in research-focused graduate programs can learn how to run experiments on the equipment. 

“You virtually needed a physics degree to run the previous system, or spend a long, long time working out how to operate it,” said William Brooks, Ph.D., director at Hoglund and a professor of neurology and molecular and integrative physiology at KU Medical Center. “But now it’s a graphical, point-and-click interface, so in terms of our institutional mission of teaching, this upgrade makes this technology accessible to our trainees in a way that it really was not previously.”

Brooks led the effort to secure the NIH grant, including closely collaborating with the KU School of Medicine, which also provided some funding, as well as seeking input from more than 20 research investigators who use Hoglund’s equipment and services.

“It takes a village, or in this case, a medical center, to accomplish big goals. We’re thankful of the support from the KU School of Medicine and our users for partnering with Hoglund,” he said. “We are committed to continuing to make the center a force in translational research at KU Medical Center and throughout the greater Kansas City area and surrounding areas.”

For more information about Hoglund and to learn how to start a study, visit the imaging center’s website.


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