About Us

Columbia Magnetic Resonance Research Center


Mission: Research, engineering, education and extension by magnetic resonance.


Nuclear magnetic resonance (MR), as first described by Columbia Nobel laureate I.I. Rabi, is an extremely versatile tool for exploring our living and physical world.  In our Center, we employ MR primarily to research living organisms by acquiring high resolution structural, chemical, and physiological information, safely and noninvasively, in states of health, disease, and therapeutic intervention.  Columbia's engineering, physics, and data science talent is applied to developing MR to better support current biomedical applications and future discovery.  Through these processes of research and development, today's students are educated to be tomorrow's scientists and engineers.  Discoveries, innovations, collaborations and trained investigators will be extended from the Center to the world. 

The Center is an organizational structure to facilitate efficient research coordination and collaboration, resource sharing and acquisition, talent and grant competition, consistent IRB and IACUC policy, data acquisition and management standards, education and training, and promotion, dissemination and outreach.  


The organizational structure is layered in connectivity and function, much like the brain itself.  The innermost directors circle includes the Center Director, Tommy Vaughan, and three Core co-directors.  Larry Schwartz is co-Director of the Translational Research Core resident at the CUIMC.  Shih-Fu Chang is acting co-Director of the Engineering, Physics and Data Science Core located in SEAS on the Morningside campus.  And Tommy Vaughan is co-Director of the Basic Science Core located at ZMBBI on the Manhattanville campus. Executive direction for the Center will come from the directors.  


The next layer for the Center includes the Committees. The Committees, interfacing the Directors to the Core facilities, will be shared across the Center.  Committees include the Oversight Committee, Faculty Advisory Committee, Safety Committee, the Users Group and a number of specialty committees such as the Human Cognitive Imaging Committee and the MR R&D Group.  Policy and practices, research and resource planning and management are worked out in the committees and groups.  Most PIs using Center resources belong to one or more of these committees or groups.


Columbia's different research lab facilities, with their independent, local ownership and management, occupy the third layer for the Center. The different facilities include the CUIMC Neurological Institute Basement (NIB), the ZMBBI, SEAS, as well as NYSPI and NKI.  Combining the MR systems present and planned, the Center will host 16 MR systems, with 11 of these systems being all or mostly dedicated to research. The other five will be shared clinical and research machines.  Two of the systems are for animal studies.  Field strengths for human systems range from 1.5T to 9.4T.


The final, outermost layer includes Center-independent investigators and their collaborators, both domestic and foreign. Collaborators include Cornell, NYU, MSK, Mt. Sinai, as well as a growing number of other leading national and international institutions. 


The "mind" of the Center is on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP).  All Center data and operations are archived and managed in the GCP.  This gives the Center close connectivity and coordination across the Center, and gives Center investigators essentially infinite archiving and on-demand computing, all at a competitive cost.