The Program for Imaging and Cognitive Sciences (PICS) has recently been established at Columbia University Medical Center in the Department of Radiology to lead emerging new directions in interdisciplinary biological, behavioral, and imaging sciences. It builds upon the combined strengths of two imaging centers, the fMRI Research Center and the Hatch Research Center, now organized under a single structure which functions as a university-wide, cross-disciplinary core facility for advances in neural and biomedical imaging sciences. PICS is directed by Joy Hirsch, Ph.D., Professor of Functional Neuroradiology, Neuroscience, and Psychology, and aims to catalyze leading investigations of brain, mind, and body toward understanding the physiological basis of cognition, disability and disease. Additionally, PICS aims to pioneer the applications of these advances for the benefit of patient care as well as for the well-being of healthy individuals. Located in the Neurological Institute, the facility includes three state-of-the-art MRI scanners (two 1.5T and one 3.0T), advanced imaging technologies including functional imaging, DTI, ASL, animal imaging, cardiac imaging, body imaging, and spectroscopy; multiple related modalities such as TMS, EEG, biomarkers, response variables, and behavioral measures; as well as advanced computational and visualization tools.
The PICS model is based on the premise that fundamental insights into the biology of mind, brain, and body in health and disease will emerge from both questions and unifying principles that cross boundaries of traditional disciplines. Accordingly, the uniquely diverse medical and academic disciplines that are interconnected by PICS include specialties such as radiology, neurology, psychiatry, surgery, pharmacology, oncology, medicine, cardiology, human genetics, comparative sciences, physiology, biology, behavioral and social sciences, decision sciences, psychology, business, law, finance, economics, political science, sociology, philosophy, art, music, linguistics, theoretical modeling, engineering, biomedical informatics, and computer and physical sciences. The organizational structure of PICS is intended to foster innovative synergies across these traditional disciplines and translational biosciences, and includes a centralized computer system specialized for the integration of images, biomarkers, physiology, and behavior. Collaborations between PICS and the Kreitchman PET Center, imaging centers in Psychiatry, Biomedical Engineering as well as corporate and private sector relationships also facilitate goals for advances in clinical service, imaging sciences, excellence in education, community outreach, and scientific leadership at Columbia University.
Dr. Joy Hirsch joined Columbia in 2002 from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Weill College of Medicine at Cornell University where she founded the fMRI laboratory and pioneered the introduction of brain mapping procedures for neurosurgical planning. Using fMRI, her laboratory made fundamental contributions to the understanding of sensation and perception, language and cognitive processes. These initial studies were built upon research done by Dr. Hirsch as a Professor at Yale University School of Medicine, where she focused on the cortical mechanisms directly involved in human visual processing, serving as a foundation to connect the advantages of fMRI to on-going and new research directions at Columbia University. At Columbia University she directed the Functional MRI Research Center which continues to function as a division of the Program for Imaging and Cognitive Sciences, PICS.
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The Hatch Center, directed by Truman Brown, Ph.D., Professor of Radiology, and The Percy K. & Vita L. W. Hudson Professor of Biomedical Engineering, also functions as a division of PICS.
Dr. Brown joined Columbia from Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, where he headed Fox Chase’s Magnetic Resonance Research making groundbreaking contributions to the state-of-the-art of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Spectroscopy and Spectroscopic Imaging and was a leader in the direction and development of the Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.
Dr. Brown's joint appointment in Radiology and Biomedical Engineering maintains and enhances a teaching and imaging research partnership between Columbia's Morningside Engineering School and the Health Science Campus that began with BMR-Radiology funding awards from the Whitaker Foundation. The Hatch Center is an integral part of the Biomedical Engineering Department as an educational resource for undergraduate and graduate students in the Biomedical Engineering Imaging Specialties. MR studies provide a number of possible directions for doctoral, radiology resident and postdoctoral research, including investigations in physiology, electronics, instrumentation, magnets and biomechanics, working closely with colleagues in the neurosciences, psychiatry, medicine, cardiology and orthopedics.
The Biomedical Engineering Imaging Research Center
Andrew F. Laine, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Radiology (physics) and Director of the Biomedical Engineering imaging laboratories provides an expanding curriculum of courses at the undergraduate and graduate level and is an investigator in medical imaging research. Associated with this Biomedical center on the Health Sciences Campus are Andreas Hielscher, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Director, Biophotonics and Optical Radiology Laboratories, and Paul Sajda, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Director, Laboratory for Intelligent Imaging and Neural Computing. The BME facility includes imaging research laboratories for students and scientists, a video classroom and a state-of-the-art video conferencing facility, connecting Health Sciences with Morningside Campus Biomedical Engineering and beyond to the world.
Inquiries can be directed to Joy Hirsch at firstname.lastname@example.org or to the Program manager, Ray Cappiello at email@example.com. PICS information is at www.fmri.org