DOI: 10.1002/alz.083214 ISSN: 1552-5260

7 Tesla Brain MRI: A Paradigm Shifting Technology for Clinical Research in Aging and Dementia Science

Tamer Ibrahim, Tales Santini, Nadim Farhat, Salem Alkateeb, Andrea Sajewski, Eduardo Diniz, Jacob Berardinelli, Jinghang Li, Hecheng Jin, Robin Chu, Jr‐Jiun Liou, Bruno de Almeida, Anthony DeFranco, William Salmon, Jeremy Berardo
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Health Policy
  • Epidemiology



As the usage of MRI for biomedical research increases, an ongoing goal for extending the usefulness of MRIs has been the increase of the magnet’s field strength to 3T, 7T, and beyond. The 7T field strength has recently been given FDA‐approval for clinical use, due to recognition of its safety and ability to characterize “smaller structures and subtle pathologies” 1 when compared to 3T (Fig. 1.)

Technological developments at the 7 Tesla Bioengineering Research Program (7TBRP) at University of Pittsburgh is currently enabling neuroimaging translational research for 35 active 7T‐based NIH research projects with projected ∼ 7000 7T scan sessions that focus on studying aging, AD, COVID‐19 among several other neurodegenerative diseases.


We have developed a new (Fig. 2 and 3) device (Version 2 of Tic Tac Toe radiofrequency (RF) coil system) composed of 60 transmit channels – first of a kind ‐ and 32 receive channels. The coil has been deployed to Pittsburgh’s Imaging Community and is currently being used in a wide variety of NIH‐funded studies.


Compared to other commercially available coils, this new RF coil system provides more homogeneous excitation, signal/contrast to noise ratio, and extended coverage of hard‐to‐reach regions at 7T (brain stem/temporal lobes/cerebellum.) Furthermore, the new RF coil system is also an anti‐claustrophobia solution at 7T as it provides a face opening in the front of the head resulting in more comfortable breathing, less claustrophobia, and a better overall 7T MRI experience for the participants.


Among several other neurodegenerative diseases, advances in 7T MRI technology have allowed us to explore the common biology underlying aging, Alzheimer disease as well as the neurological sequelae following infection with SARS‐CoV‐2 (from imaging data harmonized across 3 different 7T sites)

Funding: R56AG074467, R01MH111265 and R01AG063525


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