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Using 7T MRI in MS Research

The high-resolution images this technology captures provide further insights into MS pathology, including new biomarkers.

In collaboration with The F.M. Kirby Center for Functional Neuroimaging at the Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI), we visualized cortical lesions (see Figure 1), lesions in the thalamus, lesions with quantitative susceptibility (QSM) rims suggestive of chronic inflammation and contrast enhancement suggestive of meningeal inflammation (see Figure 2). 

As we continue this work, we hope to perfect these techniques and link our findings with clinical data, OCT data and blood/cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers. 

UM’s Multiple Sclerosis Neuroimaging and Biomarker Research Group has multiple, ongoing projects related to the use of 7T MRI in MS, including two NIH/NINDS funded grants.

Harrison Lab Brain Scan

Figure 1 (left): Examples of cortical lesion subtypes.  Cortical lesions were identified as hypointensities on T1w MP2RAGE images. Red arrows indicate lesion location. A = Leukocortical, B = Intracortical, C = Subpial, D = Hippocampal

Figure 2 (right): Meningeal contrast enhancement. Shown are pre-(left) and post-(right) contrast images from MPFLAIR at 7T. Contrast was seen in the meningeal space.


Together with colleagues in the Magnetic Resonance Research Center (MRRC) at the University of Maryland, we are working toward the development of new metabolic techniques and diffusion-based sequences using this technology.

Our research aims to find methods for quantifying astroglial changes related to MS and its neurodegenerative changes.

Image Analysis Techniques

In research funded by the National MS Society, we are working with UM’s Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine to develop new image analysis techniques. This includes the use of machine-learning algorithms for the identification of lesions in the cortex of MS patients.