Duke Puts Mouse Brains Online

Answering the prayers of those who like to look at mouse brains, Duke University's Center for In Vivo Microscopy last week posted the results of new advances in magnetic resonance imaging, showing off high-resolution 3D images of mouse brains, including a genetically modified mouse brain.

Duke is part of a consortium of six universities, including the California Institute of Technology, the University of Tennessee at Memphis, the University of California at Los Angeles, Drexel College of Medicine, and the University of California at San Diego, that is developing and sharing new imaging technologies. The consortium, funded by the National Center for Research Resources, is dubbed the "Mouse Bioinformatics Research Network" (MBIRN).

So why mouse brains?

According to a statement released by Duke, "The goal is to use mouse brains as surrogates for human brains to study the connections between genes and brain structure."

To this end, the consortium developed a computer infrastructure and high-speed data network that allows investigators to send 3D models to Duke for standardization, after which they're made available on the Web. The images used in the project "can be more than 100,000 times higher resolution than a clinical MRI scan," said G. Allan Johnson, Duke's Charles E. Putman Distinguished Professor of radiology and professor of biomedical engineering and physics.

According to Duke, "Using computer-guided statistical methods, the data can be segmented into more than 30 anatomical structures with quantitative volume measurements. These structures can then be computer-enhanced to produce color-coded and labeled volume renderings of selected anatomical details in 3D, seen at any angle."

See the article below for more information and links to videos of the 3D imagery. (Those with a fondness for living mice might not want to delve too deeply into the Center for In Vivo Microscopy's site.)

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Executive Producer David Nagel heads up the editorial department for 1105 Media's education publications — which include two daily sites, a variety of newsletters and two monthly digital magazines covering technology in both K-12 and higher education.

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