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NIDA. (1996, December 1). New Imaging Center Enhances NIDA's Brain Research. Retrieved from

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December 01, 1996
Neil Swan
PET scannerA research subject is positioned to enter NIDA's new state-of-the-art PET scanner, used in these studies to detect and create images of brain areas of increased glucose metabolism. Nurse Nelda Snidow draws blood samples to monitor radioactivity levels.

NIDA's new Brain Imaging Center, featuring a state-of-the-art positron emission tomography (PET) scanner and a nuclear cyclotron for preparing radioactive tracers used in human brain imaging research, was dedicated in December of 1996 at the Division of Intramural Research's (DIR) Addiction ResearchCenter in Baltimore. The facility is the first brain imaging center dedicated to drug abuse research.

Individually tailored masksIndividually tailored masks are worn by research subjects in the PET scanner. Dotted lines aid the technicians in precisely positioning the subject's head inside the 360-degree core of the imager.

The scanner, the cyclotron, and a radiochemistry laboratory are the key components of the imaging center, which is funded in part by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). General Barry R. McCaffrey, Director of the ONDCP, attended dedication ceremonies for the center along with Dr. Harold Varmus, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Dr. Ruth L. Kirschstein, deputy director of NIH; NIDA Director Dr. Alan I. Leshner; Dr. Barry J. Hoffer, Director of NIDA's Division of Intramural Research, and Center Director Dr. Edythe D. London.

A look inside the PET scnnerThe scanner can accurately depict images of physiological features and activities with a resolution as small as 4 millimeters, which is smaller than the size of a pea.

Dr. London is a pharmacologist who has conducted innovative PET scan drug abuse research, including mapping human brain areas involved in cocaine-induced euphoria. Much of her earlier work used an older model PET scanner at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The Brain Imaging Center's scientific facility and staff will be available to DIR scientists as well as to extramural researchers.