Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Physics & Astronomy


Nottingham has considerable expertise and a long track record of success in the development of MRI. It also has strong research programmes in gastroenterology, liver disease, metabolism, sports medicine, orthopaedics, respiratory medicine, mental health, hearing and radiological sciences. This proposal aims to combine these strengths to establish a world-leading centre, the SPMIC, to drive the development and application of medical imaging. A key feature is that the centre will be set up to share our facilities and expertise, as well as the data that we acquire, with other centres. We are requesting funding for a number of items of equipment which will transform our current facilities:
1. We were the first group in the UK to install and develop a 7T MR scanner, which is the highest field MR scanner generally available worldwide. Ultra-high field MR considerably increases the sensitivity of MRI and MRS, and our work and that of others has proven the capabilities of 7T MR in the brain. There is now another 7T scanner in Oxford, and we are pleased to note that other UK groups are recognizing the advantages of 7T and are applying for such scanners through this call. We are happy to share the experience gained in pioneering MR studies at 7T. We now need to add whole body capability to our 7T scanner, to exploit the capabilities of 7T outside of the brain. We are ideally placed to do this because of our experience in using MR in experimental studies.
2. We have a long track record of using MR to study nutrition, metabolism and gastrointestinal disorders. However we are currently limited by the fact that many subjects in these studies are too large to fit into a standard MR scanner, limiting the study of obese patients. We also have considerable experience of studying the effects of exercise on the physiology and metabolism of skeletal muscle and the brain. We need to use the non-invasive capabilities of MR in this work, but are hampered by the problems involved in scanning subjects undertaking exercise. We have an exercise bike designed for use inside an MR scanner, but this is difficult to use in a conventional scanner because of the narrow bore. We have therefore requested funding for wide-bore 3T MR.
3. We have developed strong technical expertise relating to two recently-developed methods for increasing the sensitivity of MR: hyperpolarized (HP) inert gases (e.g. xenon and krypton) and dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP). Both of these techniques have the potential to produce a step change in the way MR is used clinically. We will exploit the increased sensitivity of HP inert gases in the study of lung disease and will also undertake completely novel studies that involve using DNP to study metabolism in muscles and in the brain.
4. We have made lots of progress in understanding the brain's function by using electrophysiology techniques (MEG and EEG). We will build on this by installing "real time" capability on our MEG scanner, which will allow us to perform experiments where we stimulate a subject based on their ongoing brain state.
5. As part of our hearing research, we want to study brain activation in patients who have received a cochlear implant, but MEG and MRI cannot be used for these experiments. We will therefore purchase fNIRS equipment to monitor how these patients adapt to their implants. We will site this equipment in a specially-designed room adjacent to our MR scanners, to ensure that the new facilities are as convenient as possible for patients who take part in multi-modal studies.
6. Patients often do not like having MRI scans, and one of the main reasons is acoustic noise. We will use active noise cancellation headphones to reduce the noise levels in our MR scanners. We will also install systems to detect and correct for head motion in MRI; this will greatly improve the quality of images obtained from patients who often find it hard to keep still; invaluable for clinical studies of patient

Technical Summary

This project will establish the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre (SPMIC) at the University of Nottingham. This will form a multidisciplinary centre that combines the University's strengths in the development of medical imaging technologies (particularly MRI) and experimental and in translational medicine in an environment that will foster productive new collaborations and synergies. A major goal will be to share our resources, expertise and data with other leading groups and centres.
The SPMIC will be housed across two sites, one dedicated to experimental studies and the second dedicated to more acute medical studies. The SPMIC will be equipped with the following new facilities
- MultiX capability on our existing 7T MR scanner for whole body imaging
- A wide-bore 3T MR scanner suitable for scanning large or claustrophobic patients, or for undertaking exercise studies
- A vertical MR scanner, for weight-bearing studies of the musculoskeletal system, and also for studies of the effect of posture on gastrointestinal and lung function, and studies of respiratory patients who cannot lie down.
- A dedicated electrophysiology lab, close to the 7T scanner, with Magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG), as well as a functional near infrared system (fNIRS) to be used in patients undergoing cochlear implantation
- Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) facilities for hyperpolarization of 13C for use in humans
- Hyperpolarized gas facilities for use in humans (xenon and krypton)
- Optical motion detection cameras which we will interface to our MR scanners to provide prospective motion correction
- Active noise cancellation headphones to improve patient acceptance of MRI.
We will use these facilities to undertake innovative studies in gastroenterology, liver disease, metabolism including sports medicine, orthopaedics, respiratory medicine, mental health, hearing and radiological sciences.

Planned Impact

This grant will have impact in a number of arenas:
Medical care: the aim of this project is to increase the pull-through of developments in medical imaging into novel solutions for patient care via experimental medicine or stratification for personalized medicine in arenas in which Nottingham has particular translational strengths. The primary mechanism to achieve this will be the establishment of the new interdisciplinary SPMIC, equipped with state of the art facilities that will enable innovative studies in stratified and experimental medicine. This pull-through to medical care will be accelerated by the close integration of clinicians and basic scientists. The following organizations will be integral to the SPMIC and will ensure rapid translation of developments into the clinic: NIHR Biomedical Research Units in Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases and Hearing (joint with the MRC Institute for Hearing Research, IHR), the ARUK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis (with Oxford), the MRC-ARUK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research (with Birmingham), the ARUK National Pain Centre, the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) and the Respiratory Disease Research Centre. We also have many other partnerships and collaborations with clinical networks that will ensure rapid pull-through (detailed in the Case for Support and the letters of support).
Medical Imaging Community: We are confident that the outputs of the SPMIC will be adopted rapidly by other workers in the field. Following on from the success of MEGUK partnership, we are committed to the establishment of a network of 7T facilities in the UK (UK7T) and to developing a national network for HP lung imaging, and are keen to establish links with the UK Dementia Platform.
Industry: We have long experience of working closely with medical imaging equipment suppliers as evidenced by the letters of support included with this application. In particular we will: work with Philips on the MultiX upgrade at 7T; collaborate with MRcoils on the modelling required to install the abdominal transceiver coil and with Rapid on the development of a range of RF coils for 7T; work very closely with the manufacture of the vertical MR scanner, to maximize the performance of the system, to exploit its clinical potential, and to provide multinuclear capability; continue to work with MISL on real-time MEG capability and processing software; collaborate with GE on developing hyperpolarized [1-13C]acetate capability on the SpinLab polarizer; build on a long history of developing active noise cancellation for MR, working with Optoacoustics to increase the range of pulse sequences on which active noise cancellation can be applied; continue a fruitful collaboration with Brain Products GmbH focusing on developing improved approaches to combined EEG-fMRI. In addition, KinetiCor are excited about the possibility of working with us to interface their motion camera to the Philips and GE platforms, as evidenced by the support they have offered us.
We have a sustained track record of collaboration with the food industry who have made considerable use of our expertise in characterizing the effects of different food products on the gut and brain, as well as strong research links with pharmaceutical companies. Significant further impact is expected to arise from continued successful collaboration with partners in these industries.
Education: We have an excellent track record in training MR physicists (>140 PhD students in physics in the last 3 decades, many of whom now hold senior posts in academia, industry and the NHS). We jointly run the EPSRC/MRC Oxford Nottingham Biomedical Imaging Centre for Doctoral Training, and coordinate the HiMR Marie Curie Initial Training Network. We are a part of the MEGUK partnership which currently trains 8 PhD students. We run taught postgraduate courses which will increase awareness of the potential of medical imaging in stratified and experimental medicine.


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Description Discovery Grant
Amount £1,050,149 (GBP)
Organisation MRC-UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 06/2016 
End 05/2018
Description Discovery Grant
Amount £672,000 (GBP)
Funding ID PC 15074 
Organisation MRC-UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 07/2016 
End 12/2017
Description Network Grant
Amount £1,050,149 (GBP)
Organisation MRC-UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 01/2016 
End 12/2019
Description Compressed sensing 
Organisation University of Newcastle
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Application of sense MRI techniques at ultra-high field
Collaborator Contribution Development of compressed sensing methods
Impact Application for funding under consideration by the Wellcome Trust
Start Year 2015