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Stephen J. Blackband, Ph.D.


Department of Neuroscience
University of Florida
1149 Newell Drive
PO Box 100244
Gainesville, FL 32611-0244

Office Phone:  (352) 273-5535
Lab Phone:      (352) 294-8365

Education:               Lab Members:               Publications:

Key Words:    Neuroimaging, MR Imaging, MR Microscopy, High Magnetic Fields, Cellular MR Imaging

Research Overview:

My current primary research involves the development of an application of high magnetic field MR microscopy to a variety of tissues, including brain, muscle, cardiac, kidney, liver, fly brain and some materials.  Progress is made through the development of microcoils, moving to higher field strengths, stronger/better gradient coils, and the integration of perfusions systems for time course studies on live tissues.

Research Background:

I am an MR imaging physicist, exploring the application of MRI to a wide variety of applications, but particularly at high fields and at high spatial resolution (MR microscopy).  I am joint faculty with the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL). I have held several NIH grants, including director of an NIH Resource grant.  I have been working on technique, technology and application development of MR for over 34 years.

My PhD at Nottingham University was under Sir Peter Mansfield, and involved applications of MRI to the study of materials with some human application.  From there I developed human and animal imaging techniques and applications at Johns Hopkins for 6 years, and after four years at Hull University moved to UF.  My work has involved human studies of breast, brain and prostate cancer, including early work on dynamic contrast agent studies, T2 quantitation, and localized proton spectroscopy in the prostate.  Since moving to UF, my studies include single cells, isolated perfused tissues (heart, brain, kidney), fixed specimens (brain, heart) and some non biomedical studies. These studies use small bore high field systems, such as the 750MHz wide bore, to achieve the highest signal to noise and resolutions.  DTI especially is being applied to mouse and rat brains, and we co-developed the first ex vivo and in vivo mouse brain atlases.  Most recently we published the first MRI atlas of the isolated Drosophila fly brain.

The last 33 years has seen my group move from the first image of a single cell (a frog ova) through smaller and smaller cells (Aplysia neurons) culminating recently in the first images and fiber tracking of fixed mammalian brain cells on rat, porcine and human tissues.  These studies incorporated the use of new micro rf coils and strong gradients.  The use of these techniques is now being explored in other tissues including heart, muscle, diaphragm, kidney, liver, and retina.  Our work now is moving studies on fixed mammalian cells to cellular level imaging on live tissue, made possible by the construction of a unique oxgenator and perfusion apparatus compatible with the microimaging hardware, and central to this proposal.

At UF I was the first director of the imaging facility (AMRIS) for three years and installed most of the magnet systems now there. I also was PI of an NIH Resource grant that developed the hardware and techniques to take advantage of our high field systems.

In the immediate future we will be starting studies on the 900MHz/11cm magnet at the NHMFL, and look forward to imaging on the upcoming 30T magnet under construction and slated for operation in 2016. I review regularly for the NIH, mainly Shared Instrumentation grants, and I was a charter member of BMIT.