Transforming the healthcare sector through integrative brain imaging technologies

Understanding the living human brain requires advanced in vivo neuroimaging of tissue microstructure, function and metabolism.

Up until recently, researchers have had to use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) independently. MRI provides excellent spatial resolution of brain structure, and informative – albeit qualitative – metrics of brain structure and function. PET provides unrivalled capacity to measure multiple biochemical processes in the brain, including glucose metabolism, oxygen use, and neurotransmitter expression and uptake.

Based in Germany, global industry leader in biomedical imaging technology, Siemens Healthineers, has recently developed new simultaneous MRI-PET acquisition technology, which provides unprecedented capacity to simultaneously image multiple aspects of brain structure, function and metabolism with exquisite spatial and temporal resolution. As such, it has become imperative to develop novel analysis techniques to realise the full potential of the new technology.

Thanks to the recent award of an ARC Linkage Grant, MICCN’s Professor Gary Egan, Director of the Monash Biomedical Imaging facility, and team, including MICCN’s Dr Sharna Jamadar and Professor Alex Fornito, aim to create the next generation of quantitative neuroimaging technologies based on fundamental physics and engineering.

According to Professor Egan, it is not sufficient to merely acquire MRI and PET data simultaneously. Instead, it is necessary to develop new methods to enable data fusion – creating a synergy between the two types of data to discover new aspects of the brain that are not possible using each technology alone.

“In collaboration with Siemens, the technologies to be developed will produce simultaneous MR-PET images of unparalleled quality that will allow us to investigate new fundamental processes of brain metabolism and function in cognitive neuroscience, healthy ageing and other neuroimaging applications,” Professor Egan said. “These advances will enable highly innovative new imaging approaches that could transform the healthcare sector in diagnostic, therapeutic and preventative healthcare applications.”

MICCN congratulates Professor Egan and team on the award of this prestigious grant.

For more information on his research, please contact Professor Gary Egan 03 9902 9750, e: gary.egan@monash.edu.

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