A Brief History

The Imaging Research Center (IRC) at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) began operations on July 1, 1993. The IRC coordinates and conducts research in pediatric radiology.

The IRC is an interdisciplinary research laboratory operated by the Departments of Radiology and Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati, which conducts research in and provides access to state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging technologies within the Medical Center. The IRC employs imaging research technologists, engineers, physicists, chemists, nurse study coordinators, system analysts, research assistants, business managers and service coordinators, as well as graduate students and medical students from the University of Cincinnati.


In the early 1990s, as MR imaging was gaining momentum internationally as a tool for basic and applied research in physiology, researchers at the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center began exploring the possibility of acquiring a high-field MR imaging system for research use. Initially, a small bore system was considered for purchase but as various divisions and departments began to express interest in using such a system for research in human subjects, the decision was made to obtain a system that could accommodate humans. By 1993, Bruker Medizintechnik had developed a 3 Tesla MR imaging scanner based on a 60 cm bore magnet of their own design. The IRC bought the 3rd system manufactured and the second one to be installed in the United States, after the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). The IRC was able to borrow a good deal of information on the operation of this Bruker Biospec 30/60 from our colleagues at MCW under the direction of Prof. James Hyde. There were several exchange visits between the two groups in the early stages of operation which avoided some of the growing pains expected of a new prototype system.

Following installation and acceptance of the system and the arrival of Scott Holland as the Scientific Director of the IRC in 1994, the scanner began operation with an Aspect 3000 computer with the UXNMR software interface and ABX analog electronics. This configuration functioned adequately for a host of applications including conventional imaging, microscopic imaging, various small animal studies, in vivo spectroscopy and even 2D Chemical Shift Imaging (CSI).

In 2004 the IRC installed a Bruker 7-Tesla small-bore MR scanner. This multi-nuclear MR system is well suited for studies of rats and mice. In 2005 the center purchased an ImTek Micro CT system.

In the fall of 2008, the 3T Bruker system was replaced with a 3T Philips Achieva system. This state-of-the-art MR scanner has 32 channels and is complemented with an MR-compatible EEG system as well as a paradigm generator system built by Avotec.


Research in the IRC focuses on several areas of interest. One of the primary fields of interest is in developing new, non-invasive methods for imaging and diagnosing disorders of the brain and body using Magnetic Resonance (MR) imaging. The primary research projects currently underway in the IRC focus on functional MR imaging of the brain using dynamic perfusion imaging, diffusion imaging, and BOLD activation imaging; microscopic MR Imaging of transgenic mice; structural and metabolic imaging of bones and joints; and in vivo 31P and 1H NMR spectroscopy of brain metabolism using localized single voxel techniques and chemical shift imaging. The IRC conducts independently funded research and makes modern imaging technology available to collaborators in other departments at CCHMC and at the University.


IRC faculty and staff are affiliated with several academic departments at the University of Cincinnati , including Physics, Nuclear Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME). The BME department chair person is Dr. William S. Ball, Jr., M.D., the founder and Medical Advisor of the IRC. The IRC obtains graduate students from these programs for masters and doctoral dissertation research in the IRC on topics related to MR imaging and signal processing.