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GE, Mayo Clinic to develop prototype MRI brain scanner

The National Institutes of Health award GE Global Research and the Mayo Clinic a five-year, $5.7 million grant to study imaging tech used to study neurological and psychiatric disorders.

GE and Mayo Clinic announce today that they are the recipients of a five-year, $5.7 million research grant to study and develop a dedicated MRI brain scanner to image a wide range of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including stroke, depression, and autism.

Artist's rendering of a head-only MRI system. GE

"A smaller, lighter, dedicated head-only MRI system will have a huge positive impact on the field of psychiatry," said Steve Williams, head of the Department of Neuroimaging at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, in a news release. "During the past decade, brain imaging research has dramatically improved our understanding of mental illness. The creation of a dedicated, head-only MRI system will take our clinical implementation to the next level."

The idea is to improve on the current one-size-fits-all approach of whole-body MRI imaging. A dedicated brain scanner could not only improve the functionality of neurological imaging, but also bring the scanner down in size (by about a third), weight, and cost so that smaller-community hospitals can both fit and afford them.

GE says the researchers will develop a prototype system over the next three years and spend the remaining two years of the project testing it in human clinical trials at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke--arms of the National Institutes of Health--awarded the grant.