U of MN earns $7.9 million NIH grant to expand neuroscience research

Minnesota is one of four winners, receives highest score of 40 applicants

The University of Minnesota's Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) was one of four institutions in the country to receive a NIH Blueprint Grant for Neuroscience Research.

The $7.9 million award (approximately $1.5 million each year for five years) will be used to open up the CMRR's imaging technology to more neuroscience researchers across departments in the University. CMRR's application received the highest score of the 40 institutions that applied for the grant.

"This grant is a result of all of our work on brain sciences at the CMRR," said Kamil Ugurbil, Ph.D., director of CMRR and professor of radiology, neuroscience and medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School. "Now we will be able to expand it quite a bit by creating an environment that allows our technology to be used by the larger neuroscience community."

CMRR is an interdisciplinary research laboratory that houses state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) equipment for use in biomedical research. The central aim of the research conducted in CMRR is to develop non-invasive MR methods and technology for the acquisition of functional, physiological, and biochemical information in intact biological systems, and to use this capability to probe biological processes in health and disease.

Development of functional brain imaging and imaging of Alzheimer's plaques are examples of first-time accomplishments that are credited to the unique high magnetic field MR research carried out in CMRR. CMRR's magnets are six times as strong as most MRI machines found in a typical clinical setting.

The NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research grants were developed as a partnership between 15 NIH institutes and centers to accelerate neuroscience research. As opposed to funding individual research projects, these grants encourage the creation of centralized infrastructures that will expand and facilitate neuroscience research by providing capabilities that are not easily achievable by individual researchers.

Magnetic resonance images can be employed to study many areas important in brain research including brain function, chemistry, and anatomy; however, most neuroscience researchers do not have the resources to purchase MR technology or to develop unique MR techniques beyond what may be provided with commercially available MR instruments.

The money provided by the new NIH grant will be used predominantly to support scientific staff who are experts in the technology. This will enable more University researchers to have access to the highly specialized state-of-the-art magnetic resonance equipment and methodology developed in CMRR.


Also receiving the Blueprint grants: The Burnham Institute for Medical Research, La Jolla, California; University of Alabama, Birmingham; and Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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