ISMRM RF Pulse Design Challenge

RF pulse design plays an important role in MRI acquisition. As MRI technology evolves, new RF pulse designs are needed to help us take full advantage of new imaging technologies that are being developed.

Our aim for this Challenge is to engage the MRI research community to develop new RF pulse algorithms that will help overcome important acquisition challenges in 1) Ultra­-high field imaging and 2) Simultaneous MultiSlice (SMS) acquisition; two important hot research topics in the field, which would benefit greatly from improved RF design.

Phase II Scoring and Leaderboard Re-Opened!

We are excited to announce that we have re-opened submissions to the Phase II scoring system to the public, and will keep it open indefinitely! We are doing this to encourage further work on these important problems, and see contestants push the envelope even further! Please follow the Phase II instructions on the Details page to prepare and submit your solutions. Submissions with scores better than the final winning Phase II scores (see the Results page) will appear on the Leaderboard. Good luck! Note that you must register a team and login to access the submission system in order to submit - registration is available at the bottom of this page.

We Have Our Winners!

The Challenge champions were awarded at the 2016 ISMRM Annual Meeting in Singapore. On the left is Christoph Aigner of TU Graz, representing team rfcontrol who won the SMS sub-challenge. The rfcontrol team comprised PhD student Aigner and postdoctoral fellow Armin Rund, and the pair are advised by Professors Rudolf Stollberger and Christian Clason. On the right is Mihir Pendse of Stanford University representing team StanfordUHF, who won the pTx sub-challenge. Pendse is a postdoctoral fellow advised by Professor Brian Rutt.

The 2015 ISMRM Challenge was on RF pulse design,
with 2 sub-challenges.

Registration for this year's challenge is now closed. If you were already registered for phase I, you may login for phase II submissions using the box to the left.

1. Simultaneous multislice acquisitions

Simultaneous Multislice (SMS) acceleration has the potential to speed up clinically important bread-­and-­butter MRI sequences such as T2-­TSE, FLAIR, T1, and HASTE significantly. The speedup can be used broadly in clinically impactful situations, including scanning pediatric and epilepsy patients with motion issues, minimizing motion sensitivity in body MRI, and achieving time­limited scanning for acute neurological emergencies such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, and hemorrhage.
The main hurdle is the large number of 180 refocusing pulses used in these sequences. For SMS imaging, those pulses must refocus multiple imaging slices simultaneously, which generally results in unacceptably high SAR and peak power. The goal of this Challenge is to develop new SMS RF pulses to overcome this hurdle.

2. Parallel transmission

Ultra-­high field MRI provides high SNR and CNR and can be use to create exquisite high resolution, high contrast images. However, it suffers from transmit RF field (B1+) inhomogeneity and high SAR. Parallel transmission is a promising technique to overcome these problems, but remains underdeveloped. In particular, current multi-dimensional parallel transmission methods for slice­-selective excitation (such as spokes pulses) require the user to trade B1+ profile sharpness and spectral bandwidth, and current magnitude least­-squares pulse design algorithms are either fast or robust, but not both. The goal of this Challenge is to develop novel multidimensional excitation k-­space trajectories and pulse design algorithms to solve these problems.

Organizing Committee Contact

William Grissom, Kawin Setsompop,
Jeffrey Tsao, Samuel Hurley,
Alexey Samsonov

How to participate in the challenge

  • You can compete in just one, or both sub-challenges!
  • You will be provided with the pulse design targets, together with appropriate data sets
  • You will submit design pulse solutions for the specifications
  • The solutions will be assessed by an automated algorithm, and the score will be posted on the score board.
  • You can resubmit a solution once every hour