The cross-cutting theme of imaging has an important integrating role across the CRE programme, with physicists and bioengineers working alongside biomedical researchers.
There are two main areas of work:
Clinical imaging research
Imaging is central in our clinical research, and mostly focused on cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) and cardiac computed tomography (CCT), in the Oxford Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research (OCMR), the Acute Vascular Imaging Centre (AVIC) and with the cardiac CT research group. The scope of clinical research priorities is broad, including ischaemic heart disease, non-ischaemic cardiomyopathies, heart failure, valvular, aortic and congenital heart diseases. The University offers world-class MRI equipment such as an ultra-high magnetic field 7 Tesla system and Europe’s first clinical grade hyperpolariser for human cardiac imaging.
Cutting-edge MR and CT techniques are constantly pioneered and developed to comprehensively characterise the human heart, including MR Spectroscopy (31P MRS) to examine cardiac metabolism and energetics; T1-mapping for the non-invasive pixel-wise quantification of myocardial tissue characteristics; 4-dimensional flow to study flow pattern dynamics within cardiac chambers and vessels; diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) for describing myocardial fibre disarray in genetic conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; and novel CT techniques to assess perivascular inflammation. We also lead on large-scale clinical trials, and massive population-based studies such as the UK Biobank cardiovascular imaging enhancements. In the Clinical Cardiovascular Research Facility, we also apply the latest clinical echocardiography methods to our research.
Clinical imaging research at Oxford is multifaceted and strives towards translating research into improved patient care and human quality of life.
Experimental imaging research
Experimental Imaging comprises a number of different modalities such as microscopy, echocardiography, micro-computed tomography (µCT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy (MRI & MRS). The Wolfson Imaging Centre contains a diverse range of wide-field and confocal microscopes suitable for imaging specimens ranging in complexity from single cells to small laboratory animals. This is complimented by high-speed/high-resolution imaging using temporal pixel multiplexing to capture cellular structure and processes (for example such as calcium transients) at the same time. 2D and 3D echocardiography allows for a rapid and reliable characterization of cardiac function in genetically and surgically manipulated mouse models.
MRI and MRS are the most sophisticated phenotyping techniques, which non-invasively provide insights into anatomy, function, structure and metabolism of hearts in rodent models of cardiovascular disease. Technical developments and applications of this technique take place at The BHF Experimental MR Unit and in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG).