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F. M. Kirby Research Center for Functional Brain Imaging: Human MRI Facilities

reading room review

MRI technologists, Terri Brawner and Kathleen Kahl, performing a pediatric MRI research study.

Established in 1999, the F.M. Kirby Research Center provides both human and preclinical molecular and functional imaging research infrastructure to support the needs of Johns Hopkins University, the Kennedy Krieger Institute, and others. Over 100 principal investigators utilize the center for advanced MRI, MRS, and bioluminescence/CT imaging.

The facility provides expert faculty and comprehensive imaging support services such as experimental design, state-of-the-art equipment and pulse sequence development for innovative MRI imaging, and for processing and interpreting the acquired data. In Spring 2020, the preclinical facilities will be expanded with a magnetic particle imaging scanner.

Equipment and Services:

The Kirby Center offers several whole-body human MR research systems and many services:

  • Two 3.0T MRI systems (MR1 and MR2), running the latest digital platforms with advanced features (e.g. multiband and compressed sense) for optimizing MRI studies.
  • 7.0T MRI system (MR3), this ultra-high-field (UHF) system with 8-channel transmit and 32-channel receive was opened to the research community in April 2009.
  • A mock scanner with simulator can be used to acclimatize subjects preparing for an MRI.
  • Functional MRI Paradigm Presentation so subjects can be exposed to video and audio stimuli, which can be synchronized with the scanner imaging.
  • Physiologic monitoring devices that are MR compatible for measuring pulse, blood pressure, etc. Fiber optic response boxes are also available.
  • Dedicated computers in each control room to control stimuli introduction. A file server provides data storage, access, and transfer to outside systems. A cluster computer server is available for data processing.

child aged patient talking to radiologist

MRI technologist Kathleen Kahl with patient

The preclinical center is a clean (BSL-2) small animal facility. Scanners and services include:

  • Two UHF MRI scanners, a Bruker BioSpec 11.7T and a Bruker 17.6T microimaging system, equipped with multichannel, multifrequency RF coils and MRI cryo probes for high-resolution in vivo rodent imaging.
  • The Bruker 17.6T (750 MHz) scanner also has a triple-frequency, triple-gradient probe for performing high-resolution NMR studies of extracts and other biological samples as well as in vivo imaging.
  • BLI/CT scanner with MR-compatible holders and a behavioral suite.
  • Additional services include a surgical suite for in vivo imaging preparation procedures and a 3D printer for designing sample holders.
  • The center also has a rodent behavioral testing facility.

Contact Information:


Peter van Zijl, Ph.D., Director
Email: [email protected]

Lab Management

Jiadi Xu, Lab Manager
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 410-598-0920

Adnan Bibic, Lab Assistant
Email: [email protected]

F. M. Kirby Research Center
Kennedy Krieger Institute
707 North Broadway, Room G-25
Baltimore, MD 21205
Tel: 1-443-923-9500


The service center has dedicated a large group of technical and administrative staff to assist users.  Once a protocol is approved, booking is provided though a dedicated website. New users should study the information on our website and can also contact Dr. James Pekar ([email protected]; 443-923-9510).

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