University of Arizona engineers are using a $2.1 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to improve MRI technology.
The researchers – including Ali Bilgin, a BIO5 member and associate professor of ECE and biomedical engineering – are creating faster MRI technologies to accommodate challenging patient populations, including individuals with Parkinson’s disease, stroke patients and children. Scan times will be reduced from about 40 minutes or an hour to around 15 minutes – or even shorter if a patient’s condition necessitates it.
In addition, scans will provide higher-resolution images with richer information, giving health care practitioners more information about the stage of a disease, and even allowing for earlier diagnosis of conditions like Parkinson’s.
The team is made up of researchers from multiple UArizona departments, including ECE, biomedical engineering, medicine and the BIO5 Institute.
“We want to address the boundaries of existing MRI protocol,” said principal investigator and BME associate professor Nan-kuei Chen, who is also a member of the BIO5 Institute. “With this research, MRI scans will be faster and higher quality and will produce richer information, so we can be better informed on the stage of disease or will even be able to see if there’s any brain signal abnormality before the disease is diagnosed. With earlier detection, we might be able to delay the disease’s progress.”