U of Illinois researchers to study animals with MRI scanner

Updated 7/4/2020 7:48 AM

URBANA, Ill. -- Researchers at the University of Illinois will be able to closely study mice, rats, pigs and songbirds with the arrival of the campus' first MRI scanner dedicated to animal research.

The Bruker 9.4-Tesla MRI has been installed at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, The News-Gazette reported. The $6 million scanner should be up and running in about three weeks.


Brad Sutton, technical director of Beckman's Biomedical Imaging Center, said the institute has wanted the scanner for a few years now.

'We've been using (the human MRIs) for the pigs,' Sutton said. 'We tried to image birds, but just aren't able to do that. We're not able to get sufficiently high resolution to see into the brains of birds and mice.'

The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust donated about $831,000 for the machine, and almost 20 different units contributed to the project.

Sutton noted that the trust's donation will go towards studying sleep.

'When you're asleep at night, it was only recently discovered that there's a system that flows water through the brain to clear out some of the chemicals that accumulate during the day,' he said.

Some scientists have hypothesized that some neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, could result from a disruption to this process, Sutton added.

Professor Martha Gillette plans to study mice and rats under different sleeping scenarios.

Other projects will include: studying how birds develop their songs and how different diets impact pigs' brain development.

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