Public Release: 

Indiana University Imaging Center receives $6M grant for kidney research

Indiana University

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana University School of Medicine's Division of Nephrology has been awarded a five-year, $6 million George M. O'Brien Kidney Research Center grant from the National Institutes of Health, one of just six such centers funded in the United States.

The grant recognizes the imaging technology and expertise that has been developed at IU using advanced light microscopy systems to conduct research in kidneys and other organs in vivo, said Bruce Molitoris, M.D., chief of the nephrology division and director of the Indiana Center for Biological Microscopy.

The microscopy systems in conjunction with software designed at the center use fluorescent molecules to produce detailed quantitative three dimensional images of cells and to analyze activities in living cells within the body.

The school received its initial O'Brien Center grant of $5 million in 2002. Along with research in kidney disease and development of imaging technologies, the center has served as an educational and research resource for visiting scientists. About 60 researchers from across the U.S. and abroad have gone through the center's training programs. That's in addition to IU scientists who are continually making use of the center's resources, Dr. Molitoris said.

The center's activities will incorporate four core projects: the Digital Imaging Analysis Core, directed by Kenneth Dunn, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and scientific director of the microscopy center; the Education Core, directed by Simon Atkinson, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and of biochemistry and molecular biology; the Three Dimensional Quantitative Imaging Core, directed by Carrie Phillips, M.D., associate professor of medicine and of pathology, and the Intravital Imaging Core, directed by Dr. Molitoris.

With the renewed grant center researchers have several initiatives underway to provide more advanced microscopy:

  • An emphasis on improving quantitative analysis accompanying images: "Instead of just getting an impressive image, we get an impressive image with quantitative physiological data associated with it. Instead of just saying, it looks like the blood flow is lower, we have developed methods so that we can quantify blood flow," Dr. Molitoris said.

  • Development of techniques to get images from deeper in tissues. Currently maximum depth for imaging is about 0.2 millimeters in the kidney. The goal is to double or triple that depth.

  • In collaboration with Paul Salama, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at IUPUI and Edward J. Delp, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering at Purdue University, the center will begin offering its services via a televisualization system so that scientists can make use of the facilities without having to travel here, Dr. Molitoris said.

The O'Brien grant also includes provisions for several pilot projects for technology development with researchers at IU, the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard University.

The pilot projects, Dr. Molitoris said, "extend what we do to a number of people on campus, and provide outside users access to expertise that is not available on their own campus."

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Additional information, including images and videos, are available at the Indiana Center for Biological Microscopy web site: http://www.nephrology.iupui.edu/imaging/.

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