Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Center for Magnetic Resonance & Optical Imaging


The primary goal of the Center for Magnetic Resonance and Optical Imaging (CMROI) is to develop cutting edge core Magnetic Resonance and Optical biomedical imaging technologies for solving important problems in biomedical research with a special emphasis on the rapid clinical translation of these state-of-the art technologies. Specifically, the Resource is focused on the development of quantitative, noninvasive MR and optical imaging based biomarkers for studying tissue metabolism and function, with an eye towards clinical translation through early diagnoses and to facilitate in the development and evaluation of new therapies in a variety of diseases. These technological developments are driven by collaboration of scientists from within and outside the primary institution.

Funding and Affiliations

The Center for Magnetic Resonance and Optical Imaging is supported by the National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering through a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Impact of the Research Resource on the Community

The Research Resource has made major technical contributions to diagnostic medicine over the years. SLR pulse synthesis algorithm, ASL MRI for the measurement of perfusion, and T1rho MRI are some examples of technologies that led to patents and subsequent technology transfer to many NIH-funded labs as well as licensing by the healthcare industry.

The Resource maintains an extensive training and dissemination program in biomedical imaging. The Resource, within the auspices of the Radiology department at the University of Pennsylvania, remains committed to intellectual interchange and the interdisciplinary pursuit of basic and clinical medicine.


All of our systems of the Research Resource are available to aid in technology development and transfer. The University of Pennsylvania provides an optimal environment for our resource, combining an outstanding medical school with a strong foundation of research and world-renowned faculty. The greater Philadelphia area is also the home of four other medical schools, each the source of substantial biomedical research.In addition, the University of Pennsylvania Health System has associations with both the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Fox Chase Cancer Center. MR facilities exist at both of these locations, and the resource has transferred technologies to many related projects at these institutions.

Another important aspect of the CMROI is the broad knowledge base of its staff, ranging from basic physicists to medical clinicians. The resource has developed numerous new technologies in areas as diverse as RF and gradient coil design, pulse synthesis, spectroscopic imaging, perfusion imaging, mathematical models of metabolism, and optical imaging. Furthermore, numerous clinical experts complement resource staff in solving clinically relevant problems. Our commitment to intellectual interchange and the interdisciplinary pursuit of science has proven a fertile medium for interaction among scientists and clinicians, promoting the application of basic research to clinical medicine.


Since its inception in 1984, under the leadership of John S. “Jack” Leigh, the CMROI (formally known as the Metabolic Magnetic Resonance Resource and Computing Center: MMRRCC) has made many seminal contributions to medical imaging including multiple tuned coil technology, RF pulse synthesis algorithms, the initial description of imaging with diffuse light, arterial spin labeling (ASL) perfusion techniques, new imaging methods with T1rho contrast, innovative radial sampling approaches to DCE-MRI, methods to apply hyperpolarized 3He imaging to probe pulmonary physiology , among others. The resource has distinguished itself with a particularly strong record of translation of its technology to solve important biomedical research and clinical problems over the past two and a half decades. The CMROI also boasts a stellar training record, with many past trainees successfully pursuing academic careers around the world, including many that have stayed with the Resource.

In the past, we have emphasized the structural and anatomic aspects of magnetic resonance and optical imaging. However, recent advances in biomedical research have opened up new and exciting avenues for study. It is becoming clear that the most exciting frontiers of imaging research lie in the non-invasive characterization of tissue physiology and its aberration in disease states.