|NIH Funds Two New Centers to Develop Innovative
Imaging Technology for Neurodegenerative Disorders and Advanced
Software for Protein Analysis
The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a part of the
National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced today it will provide
up to an estimated $11 million over the next five years to create
two new Biomedical Technology Research Centers (BTRCs) that will
provide researchers nationwide with access to specialized research
tools, training and state-of-the-art equipment. One center will
develop innovative imaging techniques designed specifically to
better diagnose and treat diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, where
the nervous system progressively deteriorates. A second center
will create cutting-edge software for identifying and analyzing
sets of interacting proteins that are important in a wide range
of diseases, such as cancer.
Each center creates critical and often unique technology to apply
to a broad range of basic, clinical, and translational research.
Serving as test beds for solving complex biomedical research problems,
BTRC research projects combine the expertise of multidisciplinary
technical and biomedical experts both within the center and through
collaborative partnerships. These efforts result in innovative
solutions to today’s health challenges, which are then actively
disseminated to promote rapid adoption and achieve the broadest
"At these centers, researchers nationwide can gain access
to advanced instrumentation, software, and support for a wide range
of biomedical research problems," said NCRR Director Barbara
Alving, M.D. "Through unique collaborations with physical,
computational, and biological scientists, engineers, and clinical
investigators, researchers at these centers are collectively advancing
technology and its application to disease."
The new centers are being established at the Northern California
Institute for Research and Education Inc. in San Francisco and
at the University of California, San Diego.
The Northern California Institute for Research and Education Inc.
in San Francisco will receive a five-year award up to an estimated
$6.04 million to develop a center for magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI) of neurodegenerative disorders. This BTRC will develop innovative
and improved MRI techniques for clinicians to better understand,
detect, diagnose, and treat diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s,
and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
A vital new resource for a rapidly aging population, the new center
represents a continued collaborative effort among MRI physicists,
computer scientists, and clinical investigators to provide the
scientific community with a centralized source for the latest imaging
tools, service, and training focused solely on neurodegenerative
The advanced techniques developed at the new center will offer
researchers and clinicians improved image clarity, more reliable
and precise methods for capturing anatomical data, more efficient
and accurate reconstruction methods, and improved image processing
Through a second BTRC award to the University of California, San
Diego, totaling up to an estimated $4.94 million over five years,
NCRR will support a new center for computational mass spectrometry
that will serve as an international resource in proteomics, enabling
more research activities, investigation into unexplored areas of
computational proteomics, and support of collaborative research
efforts. The goal of a proteomics experiment is often to identify
thousands of proteins present in a complex biological sample, and
detect differences in the amounts or structures of these proteins
when samples are compared (e.g., a tumor vs. normal tissue). Looking
at these differences and how they relate to one another can help
shed light on the causes or progression of a disease and how drugs
might be able to treat the disease.
The complex data generated in these experiments require sophisticated
computational tools for interpretation. These tools have lagged
behind the rapid evolution of new analytical technologies for proteomics.
This new center will bring creative mathematical approaches to
mass spectrometry and will build a new generation of reliable open-access
software tools that will catalyze exchange and collaboration among
experimental and computational researchers in proteomics, furthering
advances in this critical field of research. The center will also
focus on training the scientific community in the use of the technologies
These new awards increase the number of BTRCs to 52 unique national
resources. They are organized into five broad technology areas:
imaging, informatics, optical and laser technology, technology
for structural biology, and technology for systems biology. Researchers
nationwide can access a broad range of support and services at
these centers. Potential interactions include long-term collaboration,
routine analysis, and consultation. They also provide hands-on
laboratory training, short courses, workshops, and online resources.
To learn more about the two new BTRC awardees, visit www.ncrr.nih.gov/btrr/2008.
For more information about the BTRC program, visit www.ncrr.nih.gov/btrr.
The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a part of NIH,
provides laboratory scientists and clinical researchers with the
resources and training they need to understand, detect, treat,
and prevent a wide range of diseases. NCRR supports all aspects
of translational and clinical research, connecting researchers,
patients, and communities across the nation. For more information,
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers
and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic,
clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates
the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.
For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.