Technion Inaugurates MRI Research Center

The Technion will open The May-Blum-Dahl MRI Research Center, where researchers and students will use the advanced imaging technique to conduct multidisciplinary research in an array of scientific and medical fields, embodying the university’s core commitments to scientific excellence and the betterment of human health

The first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan was performed on a live patient nearly 50 years ago. Since then, the method has become indispensable for performing non-invasive imaging of internal bodily structures and the brain. While the conventional radiological imaging technique is already well established around the world, many advanced methods and other MRI applications are being developed and investigated for the purpose of medical diagnoses.

This summer, the Technion’s Faculty of Biomedical Engineering joins in the global scientific effort to improve the field of MRI by opening the May-Blum-Dahl MRI Research Center on the main campus. The Center will be located underground, in its own 200-square-meter facility housing a brand-new Siemens 3T MRI scanner delivered directly from Germany.

According to Dr. Moti Freiman of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering and the Center’s academic director, the arrival of such a critical research tool has been long-awaited by the university’s scientists, who currently rely on extrapolated data and other MRI facilities to conduct their studies. The machine will be accessible to researchers from a wide range of fields at the Technion and the surrounding area, in addition to industry players interested in deepening their research and development capacities with MRI.

Technion Receives the Human MRI Research Machine

Technion Receives the Human MRI Research Machine

Expanding MRI research capabilities

The Center’s researchers will investigate a wide range of topics with various demographics, such as research into learning disabilities and language processing disorders in infants and children, conducted by Prof. Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus of the Faculty of Education in Science and Technology, among other research fields. The Center is the ideal place for conducting such a study as it includes a mock scanner, making it possible to acclimate children and infants to the imaging process prior to entering the actual device.

Advanced cognitive neuroscientific studies will be conducted by Dr. Yoed Kenett’s lab in the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management using machine learning and MRI to investigate the complexity and organization of higher-level cognition, including creativity, associative thought, knowledge, and memory search.

Motor disability research, carried out by Prof. Firas Mawase’s lab in the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, will seek to improve health outcomes for the victims of traumatic brain injuries by looking into the neural mechanisms that govern human movement.

The brand-new MRI machine

The brand-new MRI machine

Using artificial intelligence to improve treatment

An internationally recognized expert in biomedical imaging, including computational radiology and MRI, Dr. Freiman eagerly awaits the opening of the Center to continue expanding his extensive body of radiological research. Dr. Freiman will look for clinical imaging phenotypes that describe tissue physiology, which can be characterized as “imprints,” using artificial intelligence to improve treatments for breast cancer and Crohn’s disease diagnoses, among other applications.

Dr. Freiman is also thrilled about the potential to study the science of MRI technology: “The Center is unique in that, unlike other universities where the MRI centers are not part of the engineering faculty, at the Technion, the vision is to leverage the enormous capabilities in engineering to develop MRI innovations at the forefront of research and technology, while addressing unmet clinical needs. For that, we have made sure that our center will be open for computer science, electrical engineering, signal processing, artificial intelligence and physics research to improve the image acquisition process itself, adding to its capacity to generate positive outcomes for human health.”

Manifestation of a multidisciplinary scientific approach

The Center’s staff will encourage multidisciplinary research and collaborative efforts between faculties and fields. As Dr. Daphna Link-Sourani, the Center’s manager, puts it: “The nature of MRI research is itself multidisciplinary, involving the fields of biology, physics, and chemistry on the one hand, and electrical, computer and materials engineering – on the other. The Center is a living example of MRI’s robust scientific approach.”

Ahead of the Technion’s centennial, Drs. Freiman and Link-Sourani believe the opening of a one-of-a-kind MRI research facility is another reason to celebrate: “The opening of the Center represents the evolution of the Technion from a small class of engineering and architecture students to an internationally recognized research university contributing to the betterment of human health.”