With over 11,000 employees and over 1000 beds, the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMC Utrecht or UMCU) is one of the largest healthcare institutions in the Netherlands. Next to advanced healthcare and medical education, its primary goal is (bio) medical research. Its publications are among the best in the world and the UMC Utrecht is one the most highly-rated academic medical centers in the Netherlands. Our main partner is Utrecht University, which ranks 53 in the world, 12 in Europe and 1st in the Netherlands, according to the Top 500 Universities (Shanghai Jiao Tong University for Higher Education 2012). Within the UMC Utrecht, the Imaging Division (Radiotherapy, Radiology and Nuclear Medicine) has an excellent publication record with innovative and application-oriented research groups. Its key advantage is that the research takes place across traditional boundaries between departments and, essentially, across the barrier between physicists and physicians.
With the advent of a 7 Tesla MRI scanner in 2007, the 7 Tesla Group was founded for developing technology and methodology to improve ultrahigh field imaging performance and to translate imaging advantages at 7 Tesla into clinical advantages in diagnosis and/or treatment. The group is currently headed by Prof. Peter Luijten. Within the MRI community, the group is renowned for its application oriented research and its focus on ‘bringing 7 Tesla into the clinic’. However, the high RF frequency at 7 Tesla causes some challenges in harvesting the full potential benefit of the increased magnetic field strength. Addressing these challenges requires more technologically oriented research. This is in fact another key characteristic of the Utrecht 7 Tesla Group: to explore the use of existing RF/microwave technologies that are applicable in the 7 Tesla MRI community.
Laboratory: 7 Tesla GroupScientist leader: Dr. Nico (Cornelis) A.T. van den Berg
- Key personnel
Dr. Nico (Cornelis) A.T. van den Berg, Associate Professor, is an expert in (oncologic) MRI, EM simulations, waveguides in MRI, RF in MRI. He acquired RF and EM modeling expertise during his PhD project on hyperthermia where, already, he managed to divert the attention towards MRI. After acquiring a VENI grant from the Dutch Foundation for Scientific Research, he managed to build up his own research group on advanced EM concepts in MRI with currently three postdocs and four PhD-students. He recently acquired a VIDI grant (EUR 800k) on non-fourier based reconstruction. One of his other research lines is investigating the use of advanced RF/microwave technologies in MRI. Examples are the development of travelling wave imaging and the development of advanced antenna arrays for body imaging at 7 Tesla. He is a renowned expert in his field and has received a significant number of invitations for lectures on large conferences. He has established further visibility in the field by organizing an international, scientific workshop (ISMRM high field workshop, Noordwijk 2013, ~200 participants) and international, educational workshops.
Role in the project : Dr. Van den Berg is the scientist leader of the UMCU and will coordinate all research and testing activities that are performed in the UMCU. Also, he will provide input to the metamaterial research partners on the development of metamaterial solutions to address the key challenges in MRI that can be overcome using advanced EM materials.
Dr. Alexander J.E. Raaijmakers is an assistant professor with a joint position at the Eindhoven University of Technology and the University Medical Center Utrecht. In Eindhoven he is a member of the research group Medical Image Analysis at the department of Biomedical Engineering where his focus is on (MRI) education. At the University Medical Center Utrecht, he is embedded in the 7 Tesla Research group of the department of radiology. His expertise is in RF engineering for ultrahigh field MRI, ultrahigh field body imaging and RF safety in MRI. One of his most pronounced achievements is the introduction of dipole antennas as coil array elements in ultrahigh field imaging. He is currently the project leader of several research projects with a total of 5 PhD students, 1 postdoc and 2 RF engineers. The main research goal is to develop supportive technology, hardware and scanning sequences that enable clinical adoption of ultrahigh field MRI for all body imaging targets such as the heart, prostate, breasts, liver and kidneys. In addition, the lessons learned in this area are translated to lower field strengths for advanced coil array design at 3T and RF safety of medical implants.