MRI Research Center

A 45,000-square foot facility set to open in fall 2010 will serve as a staging area for research in such areas as cardioprotection and orthopedic injury rehabilitation. Auburn University broke ground on the $21 million Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research Center in February 2010. The facility's third floor will include space for the School of Kinesiology and some of its research partners.

Located in the Auburn Research Park on Devall Drive, the MRI Research Center will house a Siemens Verio open-bore 3-T MRI scanner for clinical and research use, as well as the nation's first shielded whole-body 7-T MRI.

Magnetic resonance imaging uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of organs, tissues and the skeletal system. The core of the MRI machine is a large magnet, which has a strength measured in Tesla, or T, and is named after inventor Nikola Tesla. Auburn's 7-T MRI, one of only 28 worldwide, will be the only actively shielded unit in the U.S.

Faculty and students in the School of Kinesiology will have roughly 1,000 square feet of lab space.

"It's a great opportunity for us,'' said Dr. JoEllen Sefton, associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of its Neuromechanics Research Laboratory and Post-Certification Graduate Athletic Training Program. "It's huge for [student] recruitment. We have a master's student who has decided to stay here for his doctoral program because this is available.''

The MRI Center's lab space and resources will prove invaluable for research efforts in neuromechanics, biomechanics, cardioprotection, exercise biochemistry and muscle physiology, Sefton said.

In addition to the School of Kinesiology, the facility's third-floor tenants will include the East Alabama Medical Center Rehab Works and The Auburn Spine and Neurosurgery Center.  The U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory (USAARL), which collaborates with Kinesiology faculty on research involving head and spinal injuries, will also have office space in the building.

"We anticipate a lot of collaboration,'' Sefton said.

Other features of the center will include distance-enabled classrooms for MRI training, a research laboratory and a waiting room. Dr. Thomas Denney, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, will serve as director of the research center.

The facility is expected to be completed in September 2010.

Last Updated: Jun 27, 2013

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