Experimental Ultrahigh Field Magnetic Resonance

Thoralf Niendorf


Our group carries out interdisciplinary imaging projects using small animal and whole-body human MR scanners with high and ultrahigh field strengths to explore organs and tissues in novel ways. One of our aims is to support new approaches to diagnosis and therapy.

Berlin Ultrahigh Field Facility

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a crucial diagnostic tool in clinics worldwide. The approach uses magnetic fields and radio frequency (RF) signals to depict tissues and organs. Research applications are rapidly expanding thanks to constantly increasing magnetic field strengths, customized RF antenna arrays, and faster, smarter image processing. Higher spatial resolution combined with the capacity to image new substances noninvasively is providing new insights into healthy and pathological processes under in vivo conditions.

Bringing MRI to nano-scale probes

The Berlin Ultrahigh Field Facility (B.U.F.F.) at the Max Delbrück Center provides advanced MRI capabilities for interdisciplinary research projects using small animal and whole-body human MR scanners. We carry out human MRI on 7-Tesla and 3-Tesla instruments, and animal MRI at 9.4 Tesla. Significant gains in field strengths are enabling us to image new substances and nano-scale probes. We are also expanding imaging to new organ and model systems by custom-designing novel types of MR detectors (RF antennae).

The facility has reception areas and changing rooms for volunteers, and all the technical prerequisites for clinical studies, including emergency equipment and extra patient monitoring units. This has allowed us to take on an important role in major research initiatives, including the Helmholtz Imaging and Curing Environmental Metabolic Diseases (ICEMED) Alliance, the German National Cohort, and a number of other national and international projects devoted to various health conditions.

Mapping the heart and kidney in new ways

B.U.F.F. is collaborating with other research groups to develop new methods for mapping anatomy, morphology, microstructure, function, physiology, and metabolism in animal and human subjects. By achieving new levels of spatiotemporal resolution, and imaging new substances such as sodium, we are able to conduct groundbreaking studies on organs such as the heart and kidney. We have begun a new thermal phenotyping project, supported by the European Research Council (ERC), to characterize the temperature profiles of various tissues, both healthy and diseased. One aim of the project is to use MRI to manipulate the temperature of tissues and utilize this parameter as a potential diagnostic and therapeutic tool.

Our tools

  • Human MRI at 7 Tesla
  • Human MRI at 3 Tesla
  • Animal MRI at 9.4 Tesla


Group Leader



Technical Assistants


PhD student

Team National Cohort





Principle investigators of B.U.F.F. form a key/integral part of major initiatives including the Helmholtz Alliance for Imaging and Curing Environmental Diseases (ICEMED), the population MRI program of the German National Cohort (GNC), the DFG research group FOR 1368 on Hemodynamics of Acute Kidney Injury, the imaging program of the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK), the EU funded FP7 project INSERT on hybrid SPECT/MR imaging, the BMBF initiative on sodium MRI (NAMRIS) and the German Ultrahigh Field Imaging (GUFI) network. B.U.F.F. is an integral part of the imaging core facility of the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH).

Safety instructions


Research Opportunities

The Berlin Ultrahigh-Field MR Facility at the Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), Berlin, Germany is seeking enterprising young scientists interested in the basic development and clinical application of ultrahigh-field magnetic resonance imaging (UHFMRI) as:

Diploma-, Master- and Bachelor Thesis Projects or Internships in Ultrahigh-Field MR Imaging (pdf)

PhD Thesis

  • Following Immune Cell Therapies In Vivo by Magnetic Resonance Methods (pdf)
  • Investigation of in vivo drug distribution  by Magnetic Resonance Methods (pdf)
  • Ultrasensitive Fluorine Magnetic Resonance Imaging (pdf)

Post-Doc Position

  • Ultrahigh Field Potassium (39K) MR (pdf)

The Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine is an equal opportunity employer. Interested candidates should email CV and cover letter to:

Prof. Thoralf Niendorf (



In the media

MDC 20.07.2017: Bundesweit größte Gesundheitsstudie NAKO in Berlin: Bereits 3.000. Studienteilnehmerin im MRT

AuntMinnieEurope 19.07.2017: Clinical success of 7T MRI requires only 'imagination'

Berliner Kurier, 1.6.2017: Medizintechnik Mini-U-Boote heilen den Körper von innen

AuntMinnieEurope 5.04.2017: Berlin researcher receives grant for ultrahigh-field MRI

MDC 26.07.2016: Globalizing medical imaging

MDC 15.07.2016: Thoralf Niendorf recommends a paper on the future

AuntMinnieEurope 15.02.2016: 7T MRI detects abnormal thickening of heart tissue

idw-online 10.02.2016: Gewebeschäden des Herzmuskels bis ins Detail sichtbar

ScienceDaily 10.02.2016: Precise visualization of myocardial injury

MDC Insights 2.12.2015: Tausendster MRT-Studienteilnehmer an NAKO in Berlin-Buch

MDC Insights 24.09.2015: Darth Vader’s helmet and other adventures at the border of physics, medicine, and biology

AuntMinnieEurope 22.06.2015: 7T 3D sodium MRI delivers high-resolution heart images

AuntMinnieEurope 29.04.2015: Why we need a 20T human MR scanner 6.11.2014: A warm OA welcome to new Editorial Board Member Professor Thoralf Niendorf

Tagesspiegel 15.10.2014 - Gesundheitsstandort Berlin-Buch Bauen fürs Leben 

RBB-Inforadio 26.08.2014 - 10:25 Uhr - mp3

RBB-Inforadio 26.08.2014 - Wie entstehen Volkskrankheiten?

Der Tagesspiegel Wirtschaft 02.08.2014: Auf Herz und Nieren

Berliner Woche 27.03.2014: MDC beteiligt sich an der größten Bevölkerungsstudie

Pankower Allgemeine Zeitung 18.03.2014: MDC erhält 3-Tesla-Magnetresonanz-Tomograph

bild der wissenschaft plus Januar 2013: Herzen im Techno-Beat

TSB Report Medizintechnik 2012-2013: Der magnetische Blick

Technologiereport Medizinische Bildgebung 2012/2013: Ultrahochfeld-Magnetresonanztomographie am Max-Delbrück-Centrum (MDC): Von der Technologieentwicklung zur klinischen Anwendung

Berliner Morgenpost 10.06.2012: Eine exzellente Adresse für junge Forscher

innovations 11.06.2012: Bessere Diagnoseverfahren in Sicht - Tagung zur Ultrahochfeld-Magnetresonanz-Tomographie in Berlin 11.06.2012: Bessere Diagnoseverfahren in Sicht - Tagung zur Ultrahochfeld-Magnetresonanz-Tomographie in Berlin 01.06.20012: Ultrahigh-field MRI: Hoofing it into the clinic

Röntgenkongress Hamburg: Wenn das Ultra-Hochfeld-MRT zum Mikroskop wird 02.03.2012: Bluthochdruck- und Nierenspezialist Prof. Friedrich Luft wird 70

Kunst-am-Bau-Maßnahme in der Berliner Ultrahigh Field Facility 15.3.2012 29.01.2012: Charité und MDC zeigen mit 7-Tesla-MRT: Multiple Sklerose zerstörerischer als bislang angenommen 12.01.2012: Is 7-Tesla MRI where 3-Tesla was 10 years ago? - Stadtgespräch vom 22. November 2011: Berlin Buch ein Wissenschaftsstandort mit Zukunft

European Hospital August/September 2011: Ultra High Field Magnetic Resonance (Seite 9)

Der Tagesspiegel 03.08.2011: Senat will Autobahnanschluss für Buch

Berliner Morgen 27.7.2011: Ein Kunst-Comic für Berliner Hightech-Forscher

Der Tagesspiegel 13.07.2011: Comics für weiße Wände Wettbewerb "Kunst am Bau": UdK-Student Sieger

Resonanz zum Symposium 2011 Berlin

Symposium 2011 Berlin: What MRI can (and can't yet) do for cardiac imaging

Cardiac MRI at 7.0T: Hope or hype?

Welt online 20.04.2011: Super-präziser Blick auf das schlagende Herz

Berliner Zeitung 20.4.2011: Blick ins schlagende Herz

iMDC 01201 Barbara Urban "Wunderkiste"

iMDC 012011 Barbara Urban "Von Menschen und Magneten"

Das Erste "Ratgeber Gesundheit" 5. Juni 2011 Scharfe Bilder vom Herzen (nicht in der Mediathek verfügbar)

B1 Radio "Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften 2011" Interview mit Lukas Winter

TSB Medici News 29. April 2011 Neues Verfahren revolutioniert den Blick auf das schlagende Herz

Berliner Morgenpost 20th April 2011 Die Charité schaut tief in die Herzen

Wissens- und Technologietransfer in der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Scharfe Bilder vom Herz bei hohen Feldstärken

European Hospital 2010 Cardiac MRI at 7-Tesla

Diagnostic Imaging Europe 2010 Cardiovascular 7T MRI moves from dream to reality