New 7T Magnet

February 10th, 2014

In December 2013 the SFVAMC joined a small, elite group of research centers that perform human imaging research with an ultra-high field MRI scanner as the 7 Tesla MRI scanner arrived.

In general, MRI scanners that operate at higher magnetic field provide improved signal strength, which can be used to improve image quality or image resolution. At present, clinical MRI systems operate at field strengths up to 3 Tesla, where Tesla is a measure of the strength of the magnetic field. The SFVA currently has two 3 T Siemens Skyra MRI scanners, one which is 100% dedicated for research investigations. Higher field MRI instruments, such as 7 Tesla MRI scanners, are available for research purposes.

The new 7T MRI instrument from Siemens Healthcare will be used at the SFVAMC by researchers at the Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases (CIND), as well as by other collaborators at SFVAMC and UCSF. It will be used for a variety of research projects impacting veterans’ health, including Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease. We expect the 7T to be available for research use in spring 2014.

Alzheimer's Walk: San Francisco

September 25, 2013

Last Saturday, the CIND had a team that participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer's Disease hosted in San Francisco. We would like to send our sincerest a

ppreciation for all the support and donations we received. Thanks to you, our team was able to raise a total of $945 towards the Alzheimer's Association!

Also, a big thank you for those who were able to come out and walk and represent for the CIND, despite the rainy weather. Way to make us proud! And to the leading people who helped organize together our team and event, you were awesome. I believe it is safe to say it was succesful!

Check out a few of our photos below, they're soaked with fun!

Pratik Mukherjee
New CIND Director - Dr. Pratik Mukherjee



Ronald Arenson, chairman of the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at UCSF, has announced that Dr. Pratik Mukherjee will become the new Director for the Center for Imaging Neurodegenrative Diseases. See his message below:

I am pleased to announce that Pratik Mukherjee, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, has accepted our offer to become the new Director of the Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Disease (CIND) based at the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

Dr. Mukherjee received his undergraduate degree in Computer Science from Yale University. He received his M.D at Cornell University and his Ph.D. in neuroscience at Rockefeller University. After completing a radiology residency and neuroradiology fellowship at Washington University, St. Louis, Dr. Mukherjee joined our faculty at UCSF where he has excelled in imaging research focused on cognitive neuroscience. Dr. Mukherjee is an internationally recognized expert in imaging of structural and functional brain connectivity, including the human connectome as well as imaging of traumatic brain injury.  He is one of the world’s leading experts on diffusion MRI and tractography, having published dozens of papers in this field, and was an expert panelist of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences in August to develop standards for diffusion MRI for both scientific and clinical applications.  Recent peer-reviewed publications from his laboratory include original research papers on the human structural connectome as well as functional connectivity imaging of traumatic brain injury (TBI) with magnetoencephalography (MEG).

Pratik has established a successful research program in advanced neuroimaging of mild TBI (which accounts for the vast majority of TBI in the military population), with several of the most highly cited papers in the TBI literature over the past 5 years and several more currently in the publication pipeline (including one on resting state MEG of TBI that is featured on the cover of the June 2013 issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery).  His research program is funded by grants from the NIH, the Department of Defense, and the Brain Trauma Foundation, with past funding from the Dana Foundation and the McDonnell Foundation. He has served as the Neuroimaging Core Director and one of the PIs for a current $18 million NIH U01 multi-center grant proposal to create an International TBI Research collaboration. The study of TBI and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans will be a natural new direction for Pratik’s research program

As a practicing clinical neuroradiologist, Dr. Mukherjee is well qualified to oversee translation of research performed at the CIND to routine use in the reading room and other clinical arenas such as image guidance in the operating room.  His contributions at UCSF include developing high angular resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI) and tractography methods that are used on an almost daily basis at UCSF for presurgical white matter mapping, and (2) creating a thriving clinical functional MRI service at UCSF. Quantitative volumetrics of neurodegenerative diseases, an area of particular strength for the CIND, is perhaps the most promising area for current clinical translation to the reading room.  The integration of structural MRI, physiologic MRI and metabolic/molecular imaging using FDG-PET and amyloid PET will be a goal for translational research at the CIND.  Pratik is well qualified to accelerate research in multimodal imaging, with his expertise in machine learning techniques that he has employed with increasing sophistication in recent scientific publications.

As a UCSF faculty member for more than a decade, Pratik has developed extensive clinical and research collaborations with the faculty of departments such as Radiology, Bioengineering, Neurosurgery, Neurology and Psychiatry.  He will leverage these ties to increase alliances between CIND and non-SFVAMC UCSF faculty for joint research initiatives.  This will also allow non-SFVAMC UCSF faculty to utilize unique CIND resources, such as the research Siemens 3T and 7T scanners, thereby contributing to the success of the CIND.  CIND investigators will also benefit from UCSF campus resources such as the MEG scanner, the forthcoming MR-PET system and the Bioengineering computing cluster.

Again I want to express my appreciation to Michael Weiner, MD, for his excellent leadership of CIND for so many years.  Please join me in congratulating Dr. Mukherjee and wish him success in his new role.  

Ronald Arenson, M.D.