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Bioengineering Research Parntership (BRP)

The Bioengineering Research Partnership (BRP) Program is coordinated by the NIH Bioengineering Consortium (BECON) and requires research teams (academic, industrial, clinical, and national laboratory partnerships) with clinical and quantitative science components to conduct biomedical research that can provide significant advances for improving human health. "A BRP must bring together the necessary physical, engineering and computational science extertise with biological or clinical expertise and resources to address a significant area of bioengineering research within the mission of the NIH. The Martinos Center is currently involved in one project through this program:

Spatiotemporal Brain Imaging: Microscopic & System Level (1R01EB00790)

Principal Investigator:
Anders Dale, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital and University of California, San Diego
Bruce Rosen, MD PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital

Other Partners:
Amiram Grinvald, Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel
Siemens Medical Systems, Erlangen, Germany

Project Period:
9/5/2002 – 8/31/2007

The last decade has brought revolutionary new techniques allowing visualization of the working brain in humans at the systems level. However, a large gap remains between the spatiotemporal resolution of tomographic techniques (fMRI, PET) and the circuit level, where animal studies permit mechanistic neural models. The overall goal of this project is to develop an integrated suite of technologies with which to bridge this critical gap. Two major interrelated goals inform and guide this project: (1) improving the spatial and temporal resolution of non-invasive technologies, thus enabling direct imaging of discrete (e.g., column and laminar level) neural units that bridge the systems and cellular levels, and (2) clarifying the mechanisms that relate the biophysics of neuronal activity “observables” in our imaging measurements. The two key technologies to be investigated are: (1) extremely high resolution MRI and fMRI, using very high strength gradients, phased-array coils, and other advances at 3T and 7T in non-human primates, and at 9.4T in rats, and (2) tomographic optical imaging, increasing the resolution and physiological range using three different optical technologies: direct reflectance imaging, optical scanning microscopy, and diffuse optical tomography. These technologies will be validated against invasive “gold standard” techniques in studies of rat whisker barrel cortex and macaque visual cortex, and further applied to animal models spreading depression in migraine and stroke. These experiments are designed to allow us to serially step from more to less invasive, and move from systems about which much is already known to studies in humans that heretofore have not been explored within the spatiotemporal domains our newly developed tools will afford.

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