République Française Inserm
Institut thématique Technologies pour la Santé

Partner 1 – Node 1 – CEA – Institute for Biomedical Imaging (I²BM)

The Institute of Biomedical Imaging I²BM, constitutes a unique cluster of skills and resources dedicated to research on multimodal biomedical imaging. It is located on 30 000m2 of specific imaging platforms and gathers nearly 400 researchers, engineers, technicians, doctorates and post doctorates coming from CEA, INSERM, CNRS, AP-HP and INRIA. I²BM researchers have produced about 2500 publications and 25 patents from 2005-2009. I²BM composed of three Research Infrastructures MIRCen, SHFJ, NeuroSpin, is a unique European facility for biomedical imaging dedicated to neurosciences that focuses on the comprehension of normal and abnormal functioning of the brain, neurodegenerative pathologies and associated therapies.

MIRCen (AERES mark: A; Head: Ph. Hantraye) focuses on four topics related to neurodegenerative diseases: mechanisms of degeneration, innovative therapeutic strategies at a preclinical stage and preclinical/clinical applications in brain imaging. MIRCen has published over 90 peer-reviewed publications in the last 4 years.
MIRCen aims to develop a translational approach that allows the optimization of transfer of knowledge from basic research in neuroscience to clinical trials in patients suffering from neurodegenerative disorders. In this process, the development and validation of new pertinent animal models of neurodegenerative diseases plays a major role along with the development of innovative brain imaging methods that can assess neurodegeneration both in these models and, in the long term, in patients. Once validated such animal models (including models in rodent and non-human primates) and neuroimaging tools can be used to test therapeutic strategies with rationalized predictability. The design and validation of translational research process for neurodegenerative disease require active methodological and scientific transversal exchanges at two levels: between the different scientists who constitute the lab and between the lab and other national and international actors (labs, institutions, networks, foundations) that can contribute to finding a cure for neurodegenerative illnesses.

SHFJ (AERES mark: A; Head: P.Merlet) : The SHFJ is one of Europe’s pioneering centres in the field of molecular imaging by PET, particularly in the domains of neurotransmission imaging and in the quantification of membrane receptors. The SHFJ is a department of preclinical and clinical research in molecular and functional imaging associated with a clinical nuclear medicine facility.

NeuroSpin (AERES mark: A+; Head: D. Le Bihan) : NeuroSpin explores the brain at a spatial and temporal level by pushing the current limits of brain imaging in mouse and man, as far as possible, with the highest magnetic field Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy available in France. NeuroSpin develops and validates new concepts in order to bridge the gap between the different spatial and temporal scales of neuroimaging of biosignals, from individual cells to higher cognitive functions. The understanding and exploitation of these concepts is crucial to address questions of utmost scientific and clinical importance like brain development, plasticity, neurological and mental disorders. Since 2010, NeuroSpin hosts CATI, the French expert centre in routine acquisition and image processing, gathering more than 20 specialists in PET and MRI image processing and analysis.

Existing Platform(s)

MIRCen :

The Molecular Imaging Research Centre (MIRCen: 8500m2) has been created as an integrated structure dedicated to pre-clinical studies in gene, cell and drug therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. Based in the CEA centre of Fontenay-aux-Roses, MIRCen is now operating in collaboration with the INSERM. By bringing together multidisciplinary teams of physicians, physicists, neurobiologists, virologists and imaging specialists, in close collaboration with the hospitals of Île-de-France (Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris, Henri Mondor in Créteil), the MIRCen centre ensures the coordination of research, the networking of skills and the optimization of resources in the area of experimental neuroscience and therapeutics. This new translational research centre (opened in may 2009) already offers a unique combination of complementary methodologies and state of the art IBISA platforms (7T MRI, microPET, BSL2/3 animal houses for rodents and non-human primates, and laboratories specialized in viral vector development & production, electrophysiology, behavioural and anatomical studies), allowing the development of original models of pathologies and pre-clinical validation of therapeutic strategies.  


Located inside the Orsay hospital complex, the SHFJ conducts research into new molecular tracers (radiochemistry laboratory) designed for use in PET in the domains of neurotransmission imaging and the quantification of membrane receptors and enzymatic activity. SHFJ develops atraumatic external screening methods for functional exploration that make it possible to study tissue function and metabolism under physiological or pathophysiological conditions, or during drug therapy in preclinical and clinical trials. In addition, platforms complementary to the PET/MRI imaging like neuropharmacological assessment of tracers, compartmental modelling and mass-spectroscopy studies of tracer catabolism are also available on site.


NeuroSpin is an ultra high field MRI platform (IBISA) dedicated to neuroscience at large conceived as an open, shared facility. NeuroSpin comprises 11000 m² of laboratories, offices, technical facilities. It consists of both a clinical facility for hosting normal human participants and patients, including children’s, with 8 beds, test/examination rooms, a nursing facility, mock scanner and an ICU (for studies of consciousness), as well as a preclinical facility for small animals (several hundreds of mice, transgenic mice and rats) and primates (30 animals, including trained primates). In particular, the Activities of the NeuroSpin Biomedical Imaging Laboratory (LBIOM) is strongly related to the Clinical part of the ‘Translational program for brain pathologies’ and part of the Program on ‘Brain development’, but also to virtually all research programs that study the human brain.

Platform(s) equipments

MIRCen gathers more than 5000 m2 animal housing under strict BCL2 and BCL3 confinement (1000 rodents in BCL1/BCL2, 1000 rodents in BCL3, 200 NHP in BCL1/BCL2 and 190 NHP in BCL3 conditions), 400 m2 of behavioural testing (motor & cognitive – BCL2 and BCL3) and histopathological facilities operating under BCL1, BCL2 and BCL3 conditions, , 2μPET operating under either BCL2 or BCL3 conditions for rodent/ NHP use, one 7T MRI system operating under BCL1/BCL2/BCL3 conditions for rodent & NHP applications). In terms of post-processing, MIRCen is equipped with a software platform called BrainVisa for image visualization, structural image processing tools, specific PET images processing as well as specific image processing tools allowing in vivo/post-mortem 3-dimensional co-registration of PET/MRI and histological sections. The centre is also equipped with a viral vector production laboratory (9 BCL3 laboratories) specialized in lentiviral vector and AAV production. More than 1500 constructs and the corresponding lenti- and AAV-vectors based on the Gateway system are available.

NeuroSpin gathers numerous MRI (for clinical purposes: 1.5T, 2x3T, 7T, 11.7T (2012); for pre clinical purposes: one 7T for rodent & non-human primate applications and one 17.65T (2009); 3 EEG and one MEG equipped with original and newly developed GMR sensors. In terms of post-processing, NEUROPSIN is equipped with a software platform called BrainVisa for image visualization, structural image processing tools, fMRI data analysis (SPM, FreeSurfer, Caret/Surefit) and a 150-terabyte data archiving system.

SHFJ gathers 1 cyclotron, 1 radiochemistry lab, one 1.5T MRI for clinical purpose, 5 PET & 4 γ cameras & 2 TDM/TEP for human use, 1μPET for small animal use. SHFJ is equipped with a software platform called BrainVisa for image visualization, structural image processing tools, specific PET images processing and laboratories equipped to conduct pharmacological and mass-spectroscopy studies of the PET ligands.


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