EUFIND: European Ultrahigh-Field Imaging Network for Neurodegenerative Diseases
EUFIND is a network of more than 20 research organisations across Europe, aimed at optimizing and harmonizing the use of ultrahigh-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for research and ultimately clinical purposes in the field of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The consortium works towards identifying areas where ultrahigh-field MRI can improve clinical assessment and expanding our understanding of how neurodegenerative diseases impact brain structure and function. Initiated in 2016 as a working group funded through the EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND), the clinicians and physicists involved in EUFIND have since continued and expanded their collaboration beyond the initial scope and funding, forming the largest consortium of research sites with 7-Tesla MRI technology worldwide. This provides unique opportunities towards further development of the 7-Tesla MRI methodology and paves the way for broader application in research and clinical settings, for example for identifying more sensitive and specific imaging biomarkers for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease and for advancing our understanding of disease mechanisms.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures of brain structure and function form important pillars in the assessment of dementias. For clinical and scientific brain imaging in dementia, MR imaging at a magnetic field strength of 3 Tesla is the most widely used imaging modality. In Europe, several research sites have more advanced scanners available that allow for more precise brain imaging due to their ultra-high field strength of 7 Tesla (7T). This new imaging technology holds the promise of considerably improving clinical and basic research in neurodegenerative diseases. With the emerging availability of 7T technology across Europe it is timely to resolve which clinical and scientific opportunities should be prioritised for collaborative research and how these imaging developments can be harmonised in a world-leading European 7T imaging network. In the EUFIND consortium, representatives of over 20 sites across Europe with leading MRI and dementia experts and MRI equipment from three major vendors have joined forces to identify opportunities and challenges of 7T MRI and to develop and pursue a roadmap for implementation and harmonization of ultrahigh-field MRI in dementia.
The major focus of EUFIND is on Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) but the participation of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) experts in the consortium provides the opportunity to optimise and harmonise across these two most common neurodegenerative disorders – as well as potential extensions to other neurodegenerative diseases. The areas of interest of the EUFIND consortium are remarkably comprehensive and include very high structural resolution, quantitative anatomy, submillimetre resolution in functional imaging, imaging macromolecular phenomena such as iron deposition, fine-grained diffusion imaging tractography, spectroscopy and multinuclear spectroscopy, vascular pathology and vessel imaging, and delineation of subcortical and brain stem structures. Our mutual goal is to optimise, innovate and harmonise these different imaging techniques for Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.
EUFIND is coordinated by Prof Emrah Düzel and Prof Oliver Speck from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases and University of Magdeburg, respectively. The consortium closely interacts with other consortia to make use of synergies, for example the JPND working group for harmonising MRI in vascular dementia by having shared contributors (HARNESS), the German Ultrahigh-Field Imaging (GUFI) network, the UK Medical Research Council’s UK7T Network, the German National Neuroimaging Network of the DZNE, and the CATI National Neuroimaging Network in France. EUFIND is open to extension and welcomes any expressions of interest from additional 7T sites in Europe.