NHS Greater University of Glasgow, in partnership with the University of Glasgow, has taken delivery of Scotland’s first ultra-powerful 17.5 tonne 7 Tesla (7T) MRI scanner at the new Imaging Centre of Excellence (ICE) on the site of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH).
The new ultra-high resolution scanner – one of the world’s most powerful magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines – is also the first scanner of its kind in the UK to be located in a clinical setting. It will be situated on the grounds of Glasgow’s new super hospital, the QEUH.
The £10m 7T MRI scanner will be used to advance critical clinical research and will allow scientists and clinicians to study the human body in greater resolution than ever before, ultimately benefitting patients.
The 7T MRI scanner will offer researchers the opportunity to learn more about a host of health conditions, initially focusing on brain imaging to look at conditions such as small blood vessel disease of the brain, stroke, vascular dementia, brain tumours, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s Disease, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
The scanner will be housed in the University’s state of the art £32m ICE, which was made possible by £16m of funding by the UK Government and the Medical Research Council (MRC) via the Glasgow City Region City Deal, with further funding from other sources including the European Regional Development Funding, The Sackler Trust and the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation.
The 7T scanner will be located on the ground level of ICE, which will also include extensive accommodation for research and development and an extension to the University’s Clinical Innovation Zone, providing an entire floor for industry collaboration and partnership. Over a ten year period the development is predicted to create around 400 jobs and £85m for the Scottish economy.
Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow said: “The new 7 Tesla scanner is very important for the University of Glasgow, the city of Glasgow, Scotland and the UK.
“The scanner is an important ‘first’ for Scotland, which wouldn’t have been possible without £2.3m of European Union funding. The ability to form collaborations across Europe, and also bring skilled staff over from the EU to work on such advanced technology, will be a key part of the long-term success of the project.
“By locating the scanner at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, we are bringing advanced precision medicine technology closer to patients, making it arguably the most advanced imaging capability of its kind in the world for patient benefit.”
The 7T MRI scanner will be the centrepiece of the ICE building, which will become a cutting-edge centre for the advancement of precision medicine when it opens next year. The building will provide world-leading clinical research facilities and provide a hub for academic, scientific and NHS clinical expertise.
Professor Keith Muir, SINAPSE Chair of Clinical Imaging (Stroke and Brain Imaging), who will be leading a clinical research programme using the 7T scanner, said: “The high magnetic field of the 7T scanner will allow extremely high resolution scanning of the body. This technology opens up the possibilities for new clinical and basic neuroscience research.
“In some conditions, looking at very small parts of the brain with the 7T scanner might make a big difference. In areas such as Alzheimer’s and some types of stroke, the areas of interest are very small – even microscopic – parts of the brain that we can’t see with the scanner technology that is currently available.”
Robert Calderwood, Chief Executive of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “The installation of this high resolution scanner will provide the most advanced imaging facilities in the world on the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus.
“The new building will also provide four state of the art theatre suites with full ancillary accommodation which will be utilised by the Department of Neurosurgery and Oral Maxillofacial Surgery.”
Councillor Frank McAveety, Chair of the Glasgow City Region Cabinet, said: “I am delighted a further milestone has been reached for the ICE project. The £1.13billion Glasgow City Region City Deal will not only deliver tens of thousands of jobs and enormous infrastructural improvements over the coming decades, but also continue the City Region’s rise as a leader in innovative industries.
“The investment we are making in exciting innovation projects such as the ICE will create new jobs and expertise in the key sectors that will deliver sustainable future economic growth.”
Dr Craig Buckley, Head of Research and Scientific Collaborations - Siemens Healthcare GB&I - Siemens Healthcare, said: “Dementia is now the leading cause of death in England and Wales and conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy continue to be key health challenges across the UK. We are working closely with experts and partners such as The University of Glasgow to improve the process of early diagnosis, treatment, supporting research through partnerships and providing innovative technology.
“The 7T MRI scanner allows researchers to see detail in the brain as tiny as a grain of sand. Brain imaging is extremely significant in these conditions as it identifies miniscule alterations in the structure, function and chemistry of the brain, which can improve early patient diagnosis and care throughout the pathway.
A spokesperson for The Sackler Trust and Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation said: “We are delighted to support the acquisition of the University of Glasgow’s new 7T scanner and its new facilities at the ICE building at the QEUH.
“The foundation is pleased to play a role in the advancement of research and look forward to seeing the impact the scanner will have on furthering medical science in this crucial area.”
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Pic: The new 7T scanner before it is installed in the new ICE building on the QEUH campus.