CHDR is a pioneer in resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (RS-fMRI), a powerful tool for measuring the pharmacodynamics of new drugs in the fields of psychiatry and neurology. To develop and test clinical applications for RS-fMRI, CHDR works closely with the Pharmaco-MRI Research Unit at Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC).


  • RS-fMRI can detect drug effects with extremely high sensitivity in a small group of subjects.
  • The effect of a wide range of drugs on the RS-fMRI signal has been studied at CHDR in collaboration with the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition and the FMRIB (fMRI of the Brain) Analysis Group at the University of Oxford.
  • A library of RS-fMRI 'fingerprints' has been established for well-characterised psychoactive compounds.
  • RS-fMRI can be combined with task-based fMRI and other CNS function tests such as NeuroCart® and PainCart®.
  • A dedicated Philips Ingenia® 3.0T scanner is available at the LUMC’s Pharmaco-MRI Research Unit, ensuring that it is available for drug trials in patients and healthy volunteers.
  • Because a full RS-fMRI scan takes less than 10 minutes, several scans can be performed during a study day, without causing fatigue or distress to the subject.

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the brain

Drug development for compounds targeting the central nervous system (CNS) is inherently complicated due to difficult access to the brain. Finding measurable concentrations in the blood does not guarantee that the compound penetrates into the brain. There is, therefore, a need for a technique that is non-invasive, has good spatial resolution, is safe, relatively easy to implement, and can be repeated over time in the same subject. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain meets these requirements.

In 2006, CHDR and the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) radiology department collaboration started a research program to investigate the potential of resting-state fMRI as an innovative translational tool in CNS drug development, complementing existing pharmacodynamic measures.

The Pharmaco-MRI Research Unit

The Pharmaco-MRI Research Unit is part of LUMC’s Department of Radiology, which also includes general radiology, nuclear medicine, medical image processing, high-field MRI, and molecular imaging facilities. In addition to serving the needs of patients, the Radiology Department is strongly committed to research, as evidenced by three research dedicated scanners (one 7 Tesla and two 3 Tesla), and a full-service medical image processing group.

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