A NEW $2.5 million research centre will be opened at Hunter Medical Research Institute today, specialising in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The Magnetic Resonance centre will be built next to the to the HMRI building in the grounds of John Hunter Hospital.
The new centre will have its own MRI machine meaning researchers will no longer have to queue to use the hospital’s scanner.
Newcastle City Council has approved the development and work is expected to start immediately.
The centre is expected to be operating by December.
There are also plans for a second MR scanner subject to funding.
HMRI Director Professor Michael Nilsson said the new facility could would allow faster access to vital world-leading technology.
“This is a major investment but one that we felt was urgently needed for our researchers and the community,’’ he said.
‘‘The MR scanner is state-of-the-art and will be the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.”
Carolyn Mountford, Professor of Radiology at the University of Newcastle and Harvard Medical School, was instrumental in securing the scanner and has been appointed the centre’s director.
“This facility will greatly expand and enhance our capabilities to study health, ageing and disease,’’ she said.
The technology can help study soft tissue in the brain, organs and muscles.
An associated technique known as Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy can be used to detect metabolic changes in tumours, as well as strokes, seizures, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and other disorders affecting the brain.
Researchers at the institute have already made 140 pre-bookings on the machine.