Pitt, CMU Partner on MRI-based Brain Research

The renewal of a non-clinical research partnership between Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University begins this weekend with the intricate installation of a new MRI scanner in Mellon Institute on Fifth Avenue in Oakland.

Fifth Avenue, between Bellefield Avenue and Dithridge Street, is scheduled to close to vehicular traffic and parking starting Friday, March 22, at 7 p.m., through Monday, March 25, at 5 a.m. Pedestrian traffic also will be restricted around the building. 

The new 3-Tesla Siemens Prisma MRI scanner will be the centerpiece of a new joint Pitt/CMU neuroimaging research facility. The scanner is a purely research-dedicated system that will support major research projects at both schools, including studies on the neural basis of cognition, the developing brain, progression of dementia and the development of cutting-edge brain mapping technologies.

“This is exciting because it’s a renewed partnership between the two universities,” said Julie Fiez, chair of Pitt’s Department of Psychology. “We see this as the beginning of continued investment in working together in partnership where it makes sense. This is a way to scientifically strengthen everyone by sharing a center and its resources.”

The non-clinical research will be led by Pitt’s Walter Schneider, PhD, professor in the Department of Psychology, and CMU’s Timothy Verstynen, associate professor of Psychology and the Center for Neural Basis of Cognition. They will be supported by about 20 principal investigators from both Pitt and CMU.

The 30,000-pound scanner will be installed by a crane, which will be assembled on Fifth Avenue in front of Mellon Institute. Similar to a massive game of “Operation,” the crane will lift the scanner eight stories high and lower it through an opening cut in the roof into the new facility on the institute’s bottom floor.