Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Blaine Chronik


Generally speaking, targeted molecular Imaging has always been difficult to perform with magnetic resonance. The difficulty does not arise with the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique or equipment itself, but rather with the targeted contrast agents, which the method requires. Also referred to as activatable contrast agents, or MRI probes, targeted contrast agents are pharmaceuticals that will selectively bind to a particular biological (target) molecule. They are used to highlight a certain tissue or the difference between healthy and diseased tissue. Unfortunately, nearly all MRI probes are non-specific, causing localized increases in MR image intensity in both the unbound and target-bound states. Therefore, brightening in a conventional MRI image, following probe injection, does not positively indicate the presence of the target molecule.

Herein, a novel method known as delta relaxation enhanced magnetic resonance (dreMR, pronounced "dreamer") is presented that utilizes variable magnetic field technology to produce image contrast related to the dependence of the sample's longitudinal relaxation rates upon the strength of the main magnetic field of the MRI scanner. Since only bound contrast agent shows significant magnetic field dependence, it is an indicator of the bound probe, which is in turn a marker for the target molecule.

This work details the development of the dreMR method, focusing on the specialized hardware necessary to provide a clinical, static-field MRI the ability to modulate its main magnetic field throughout an MRI sequence. All modifications were

performed in such a manner that the host MRI system was not degraded



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