Core Services

Human and Animal Imaging Core

The Human and Animal Imaging Core (HAIC) provides non-invasive in vivo investigation of disease mechanisms in human and in animal models, effects of IDDs and their causes on brain structure and function, expression and perturbation of cognitive networks in IDDs, and identification of IDD/brain injury biomarkers. The HAIC provides access to state-of-the-art in vivo whole brain imaging technologies and expertise to DC-IDDRC investigators in order to support, facilitate and enhance IDD-targeted research in humans and in animal models. To achieve the Core’s aims we have established advanced imaging facilities at three collaborating DC-IDDRC institutions — Howard University (HU), Georgetown University (GU) and Children’s National Hospital (CNH) — which provide integrated structural and functional imaging of animal models and human populations.

The HAIC supports access to a wide array of imaging tools to investigate mechanisms of disease, establish biomarkers, examine effects of disease and monitor outcomes of interventions. We have made significant institutional investments in 3T human MRI scanners at CNH and GU that provide researchers with state-of-the-art imaging instrumentation and expand our imaging capacity in neonates and ill children. Furthermore, we have also invested in state-of-the-art MRI scanner/software upgrades and added PET, SPECT and CT to the preclinical animal imaging facilities at HU.

HAIC personnel provide technical expertise in imaging strategy design, essential imaging services, acquisition and innovative analysis methods across all sites and institutions. Core faculty and staff also help educate, train and support investigators in the use of advanced neuroimaging methods, applications and analysis software as well as foster innovation.

The HAIC works synergistically and fosters collaborations with other DC-IDDRC cores, including the Neurobehavioral Evaluation, the Cell and Tissue Microscopy, and Clinical Translational Cores, and plays a crucial role in supporting the Research Project. Our administrative structure provides the quality control necessary for the integrity of a smoothly functioning and integrated core to achieve the DC-IDDRC mission. 


  • Provide access to and performance of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), spectroscopy (MRS), optical imaging, PET, SPECT and CT imaging services to assess anatomical, biochemical and functional abnormalities that underlie IDDs in humans and in animal models. 
  • Develop new imaging protocols and analytic methods including pipelines and machine learning.
  • Provide support and training to investigators newly entering the neuroimaging field or utilizing novel image technology.

Provided Services and Technology

The HAIC is housed at three facilities: Children’s National Hospital, Georgetown University and Howard University. 

Children’s National Hospital

The Children's National Hospital facilities are primarily for imaging children who are less than 4 years of age (including fetal and neonatal populations) and those who are medically ill or unstable.

Equipment includes two GE 1.5 T MRI MR45 Units; three GE 3T Discovery 750 MRI units. (one with Echo Planar Imaging, presentation and response monitoring equipment, and Multiband imaging). A research dedicated Siemens 3T Prisma scanner. MRI imaging includes High resolution structural imaging, DTI, MRS, fMRI (task or rest) and MRS.

Georgetown University Center for Molecular and Functional Imaging (GU)

The GU imaging facilities are primarily for studying typically developing control and medically stable IDD populations less than 4 years old.

Equipment includes a Siemens 3T Prisma scanner with Echo Planar Imaging, presentation and response monitoring equipment and Multiband imaging. A Mock Scanner is available for training study subjects. MRI imaging includes High resolution structural imaging, DTI, MRS, fMRI (task or rest) and MRS.

Howard University Molecular Imaging Laboratory (HU)

The research supported by the Animal Imaging Core includes imaging of small and large animals with disease models, cellular imaging, molecular imaging, nanomedicine, neuroimaging, pharmacology, drug development and translational research. The Animal Imaging Core provides expertise in delivering high resolution and high sensitivity imaging services, including in vivo MR imaging/spectroscopy, bioluminescent and fluorescent optical imaging, PET, SPECT, and CT imaging, spanning the range from subcellular structure to live animals.

Equipment includes two MRI machines (Bruker 7T and 9.4T), a PET/SPECT/CT machine (Bruker Albira) and an optical machine (PerkinElmer IVIS).

Additional HAIC Services

  • Consultation in developing efficient and effective imaging protocols to investigate experimental questions regarding typical and atypical neurodevelopment in specific animal models and clinical populations. 
  • Development of new imaging sequences, protocols, analytic methods (including pipelines and machine learning), and providing access to, and instruct the use of, large publicly available datasets. 
  • Consultation in processing, analysis and interpretation of structural and functional MRI, MRS, PET, SPECT, CT and optical imaging data in studies designed to detect alterations in brain function, structure, connectivity and regional brain/cortical activation.
  • Support of investigators in developing and utilizing functional imaging tasks and methods.   
  • Implementation of techniques (including mock scanners) to desensitize anxious research subjects to the staff, settings, equipment and procedures associated with neuroimaging.
  • Assistance in the monitoring of outcomes (efficacy, safety) in clinical studies utilizing imaging measures.
  • Provision of support and training for investigators (and research assistants/personnel) newly entering the neuroimaging field or utilizing novel image technology and includes didactic imaging courses, workshops and seminars.