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Brain repair centre opens neuroimaging research lab


Halifax, NS – January 20, 2004 – Canada’s newest neuroimaging research laboratory was recently opened in Halifax. Said to be one of the most powerful human imaging magnets in the world, the 4 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system and accompanying lab hold the potential to advance research that could benefit millions of people who suffer from brain disorders.

The sophisticated brain-imaging infrastructure complements areas of related expertise in the region, including the Halifax-based Brain Repair Centre’s (BRC) neurotransplantation program, the only centre of its kind in Canada and one of only four worldwide. A partnership contributed $10.05 million for the development of a state-of-the-art 4 Tesla MRI system and accompanying research facilities.

The National Research Council contributed $8.45 million, which includes $4.2 million for the MRI system and $4 million for several research and technical positions and operating costs, ensuring the sustainability of the project. The NRC-Industrial Research Assistance Program, involved in the development of phases of the Brain Research Centre, helped develop initial business plans, organizational framework and cluster possibilities, and provided more than $500,000 in funding. The province invested $1.25 million in construction of the lab as part of its economic growth strategy.

The QEII Foundation and NRC also contributed $350,000 and $250,000 respectively, to the construction costs on land donated by Capital Health adjacent to the Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII.

“The neuroimaging lab should be a source of pride for both the region and the rest of Canada,” says Dr Ivar Mendez, professor and head of the division of neurosurgery at Dalhousie University and chair of the BRC. “We now have the best minds working with the most innovative technology to research ways of curing formerly incurable brain disorders. The future is truly ours to chart.”

The ultra-high-field MRI and functional imaging centre gives researchers the ability to probe further and more effectively than before, and could lead to research discoveries that benefit those suffering many brain disorders. The advances are also expected to foster significant commercial potential, including the development of surgical and medical devices, pharmaceutical products, innovative imaging technologies and related software, and stem-cell technologies.