Klaus Scheffler receives € 2.78 million to revolutionise magnetic resonance
EU invests €540 million to support cutting-edge research
Modern medical diagnostics would be unthinkable without magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In the past 30 years it has developed into the mainstays of diagnostic radiology and has become an important research tool in biochemistry, pharmacology and clinical sciences. It offers an unprecedented diversity and flexibility to capture biologically relevant information. Compared to other methods, it is non-invasive and can be performed without putting any strain on the patients’ health.
Magnetic resonance offers a unique combination of versatility, sensitivity and specificity. Yet, imaging speed is a key factor to capture rapid changes at high spatial and temporal resolution. This is rather slow in MRI compared to other techniques such as ultra sound or computerized tomography.
Klaus Scheffler, head of the Department of High-field Magnetic Resonance at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics and director of the Department of Biomedical Magnetic Resonance at the University of Tübingen, aims to develop novel concepts to increase MR imaging speed compared to existing techniques. One of these techniques is called SpreadMRI. This method steps beyond current concepts of image encoding by exploiting a spectral spin modulation that so far has not been utilized. SpreadMRI is based on the rapid and local modulation of magnetic fields produced by current loops or radiofrequency loops.
Imagine a crowd where everyone is talking on their mobile phone. Based on the so-called spread spectrum technology this is possible without any interferences across the mobile phone users. This situation is similar to SpreadMRI. It spreads the bandwidth of gradient-encoded spin frequencies using distinct carrier frequencies originating from a certain region of the object. This spatially unique information will then be used to disentangle parts of the object and thus significantly increase imaging speed.
This novel approach will lead to major changes in the hard- and software environment of current MRI scanners. If the proposed techniques and concepts are successful, they will open up a variety of new applications in magnetic resonance, both in research as well as in clinical applications. Patients can be treated faster, there will be fewer motion artefacts and images will be clearer.
The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe. The ERC offers four core grant schemes: Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Synergy Grants.
Senior scientists across Europe will use this years EU funded grants to explore their most daring research ideas. Their work could answer some of today’s most pressing questions, such as how to improve the generation and storage of renewable energy or how to help our biological clocks cope with our 24/7 modern lives. This years grants could lead to the creation of 2000 new jobs.
More information on the ERC
ERC press release
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Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
The Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics is one of 84 research institutions of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science (MPG). The aim of the Institute is to understand information processing in the brains of humans and animals. We use experimental, theoretical and computational methods to elucidate the characteristics and implementations of the cascades of plastic and recurrent interactions that transform sensory data into perceptions, memories, appropriate choices of actions, and motor output.