MRI at low field strength has re-emerged as a hot research topic in the last few years largely due to advantages including: reduced costs, lower power and infrastructure requirements, and potential for making the scanner portable. Our group in Lund is part of a multi-national research consortium called UNITY (Ultra-low field NeuroImaging in The Young), financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and lead by Prof Steven Williams at King’s College London. Through this consortium we conduct research into technical development of low-field MRI methods, primarily focused on studying the developing brain.
The low-field research group focuses on developing and optimizing novel imaging techniques for low-field MRI systems. There are several unique constraints to take into account at low field, including reduced signal-to-noise ratio, change in relaxation times, and field inhomogeneities. As such, currently used methods for quantitative imaging for instance are not directly applicable but needs to be adapted. Our primary interest is the use of relaxometry based measurements of T1 and T2 to understand brain tissue composition and microstructure.
We aim to cover the whole chain of biomarker development, starting from methods for quality control and assurance using quantitative phantoms, to in vivo development and finally translation to clinical applications. The aim of the UNITY project is to utilize low-field MRI systems for studying brain development in neonates in low and middle income countries, to that end, we strive to make our methods as quick, quiet and quantitative as possible.
To develop and investigate optimal use cases of quantitative imaging methods, such as T1 and T2 relaxometry measurements, for studying brain development and disease progression.
Quality control and standardisation
To develop a quality control (QC) framework to assess stability of imaging results in multi-centre studies using low-field MRI scanners.
To translate novel low-field imaging methods to clinical applications through collaborations with clinical colleagues at Skåne University Hospital.
Deoni SCL, O’Muircheartaigh J, Ljungberg E, Huentelman M, Williams SCR. Simultaneous high‐resolution T2 ‐weighted imaging and quantitative T2 mapping at low magnetic field strengths using a multiple TE and multi‐orientation acquisition approach. Magnetic Resonance in Med. 2022 Sep;88(3):1273–81. Full paper