Erwin L. Hahn Institute for MRI

 Managing Director: Prof. Dr. Harald H. Quick
 Managing Director: Prof. Dr. Harald H. Quick
Administrative Director: Dr. Corinna Heldt
Administrative Director: Dr. Corinna Heldt

The Erwin L. Hahn Institute for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (ELH) is dedicated to the research, development and application of ultra high field magnetic resonance imaging (UHF MRI), especially in the fields of cognitive neuroscience and clinical diagnosis. 

Founded in 2005 as an interdisciplinary central facility of the University of Duisburg-Essen and Radboud University Nijmegen, the ELH is located on the UNESCO World Heritage site of the former coking plant Zollverein Essen and looks back on a ten year history of successful German-Dutch collaboration and cutting-edge international research. The success of the research activities at the ELH is founded on close interdisciplinary cooperation between cognitive scientists, researchers from the natural sciences and engineering, and physicians.

The centrepiece of the Institute is a whole-body magnetic resonance scanner, which operates at a magnetic field strength of 7 Tesla, making it the strongest magnet in the entire Ruhr region. The high magnetic field strength is generated with a superconducting magnet cooled to -269°C with liquid helium. The 7 Tesla MRI system weighs 32 tonnes and the magnetic field is shielded and homogenized by 420 tonnes of steel in the walls of the examination room. Compared to the MRI systems with a field strength of 1.5 and 3.0 Tesla used in clinical imaging around the world today, the 7 Tesla UHF MRI system offers much greater sensitivity for structural and functional measurements in the human body. The images produced by this system have excellent soft tissue contrast and very high detail resolution. 

Before UHF MRI can achieve its full potential in clinical diagnosis, there are numerous physical and technical challenges to overcome. Only a few research institutions worldwide are dedicated to addressing these challenges. One of the chief objectives of the Erwin L. Hahn Institute is to use its technical and methodological developments to make the benefits of UHF MRI from neuroimaging applicable to the entire human body and to advance the spread and application of this technology. The Institute provides an outstanding research infrastructure for various research groups from the two founding universities and cooperates very closely with different academic and industrial partners.

The main areas of research interest at the Institute centre on the development and application of new methods and techniques in ultra high field MRI for:

  • high-resolution structural, functional and spectroscopic MRI of the brain
  • cognitive neuroimaging
  • fMRI in decision-making processes and for human-machine interactions
  • fMRI in pain research
  • high-resolution structure and physiology of the human cerebellum
  • high-resolution 7 Tesla UHF MRI in the entire human body
  • clinical evaluation of head and body MRI compared to 1.5 and 3.0 Tesla MRI
  • high-resolution tumour and metastasis imaging in cancer diagnosis