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Durham University News

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New brain scanner for researchers

(4 July 2011)

A new £1.5 million MRI scanner has arrived at The James Cook University Hospital as a joint venture between Durham University and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The new scanner, which will be used to scan people's brains, will be shared between the hospital for clinical work with patients and by the University for research into the brain.

The partnership approach in sharing the equipment is unique to Tees Valley, and it will be the first time Durham University has ever had its own scanner for research purposes.

The MRI scanner is top of the range and, compared to existing scanners in the Tees Valley area, will be faster and produce better quality images of the brain.

Professor Charles Heywood from the Department of Psychology at Durham University has been closely involved in driving the partnership.  He said: "We are absolutely delighted to have this facility at our disposal.  I believe this is a great step forward in bringing clinical and research work closer together and in finding ways to share resources efficiently. 

"This is not only good news for our research staff, who will now have much better and easier access to quality brain and body imaging, but also to patients in Tees Valley."

The scanner will be used by academics from across the University including those from the School for Medicine and Health and the Wolfson Research Institute, which are both based at the University's Queen's Campus in Stockton.

Research projects include those which investigate autism, the impact of hormones on the brain, and brain function in relation to visual field defects and visuomotor deficits.

Professor Phil Kane, Consultant Neurosurgeon at The James Cook University Hospital, has championed the development within the trust. He said: "The installation of the scanner is the culmination of an extensive collaboration between the Trust and Durham University. As far as I am aware the scanner is unique in the northern region and it will allow leading edge research to be carried out at The James Cook University Hospital and state of the art scanning for NHS patients."

The MRI scanner will be fully installed and ready for use by clinicians and researchers at the end of the summer.  The whole facility, including the equipment and refurbishment of the space, costs £3 million which has been equally shared between Durham University and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

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