Coulter Foundation awards funding for “Adiposity MRI” — a Measurement of Central Obesity in Metabolic Syndrome

Posted on April 2010

Scott Reeder, MD PhD, Assistant Professor in Radiology and co-investigator Aziz Poonawalla, PhD, Hartwell Foundation fellow, received $90,000 from the Coulter Foundation for their proposal, “Adiposity MRI: Quantitative Measurement of Central Obesity as a Biomarker of Metabolic Syndrome.” This Adiposity MRI project seeks to quantify the volume of abdominal fat to permit more accurate risk-assessment and screening for patients with metabolic syndrome. Using an accelerated data acquisition on a state-of-the-art clinical MRI scanner, separate fat-only and water-only images are acquired simultaneously over the entire abdominal volume via the IDEAL technique, and automatically processed to generate a unique “fat mask,” which is a quantitative map of the adipose tissue concentration. The fat mask permits rapid, accurate separation of visceral fat from subcutaneous fat, which would otherwise require a tedious, hours-long manual process of tracing tissue structures. The volume of visceral fat and the ratio of visceral/subcutaneous fat are known biomarkers for “central obesity” which is a major risk factor for metabolic syndrome. The Adiposity MRI project will therefore enable accurate measurement of central obesity in the clinic and greatly improve patient screening and treatment, potentially benefiting tens of millions of patients in the United States alone.