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Minister for Health to open new £3M Scottish Imaging Centre - Scotland's first medical scanning unit named after MRI pioneer
Date: 23 September 98
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A new state-of-the art medical
imaging centre, the first of its kind in Scotland, will be officially opened
by Scottish Health Minister Sam Galbraith in Aberdeen on Wednesday, 23
The £3million positron emission tomography centre (PET), the only facility of its kind north of Cambridge, has been named after the eminent Aberdeen scientist Emeritus Professor John Mallard OBE, one of the inventors of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
The John Mallard Scottish
PET Centre is part of the University of Aberdeen’s Medical School and is
based at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. The Centre, which will bring together
clinicians and scientists, will serve the biomedical community throughout
Dr Andrew Welch, Director of the new Centre, described PET as an extremely powerful tool used for studying human diseases by providing images of the body’s biochemistry.
“It is an extremely powerful technique in converting the discoveries of molecular science into medical treatment. In PET imaging, a minute amount of a chemical labelled with a radioactive, positron emitting, element is administered to a patient. By detecting the radiation as it is emitted from the patient, an image is produced showing the distribution of the chemical in the patient.
“Currently we have a range of projects underway including assessing the response of certain cancers to therapy, looking at how bones heal, identifying the best type of hip replacement operation, why tissue in the heart sometimes goes into hibernation and how it can be most effectively ‘woken up’, and how the brain deals with problems of balance.”
The fascinating story of the development of PET dates back to 1965, when Professor Mallard was appointed first Professor of Medical Physics at the University of Aberdeen. In his inaugural lecture, Prof Mallard stated that the then experimental technique of (PET) would become one of the most powerful tools for studying human diseases.
Although he later gained fame as one of the inventors of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Prof Mallard held to his original assessment of the value of PET and in 1985, he set up an embryonic PET facility using second-hand equipment donated by the Medical Research Council. The facility was housed in converted farm buildings on Aberdeen’s Eday Road and purchased with funds raised by a public appeal.
Following his retirement, his successor Professor Peter Sharp persuaded the University to provide funding to purchase a new PET imager. Two years later, as a result of a generous donation to the University’s Quincentennial Appeal from the Hugh Fraser Foundation and grants from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (SHEFC), a cyclotron and new radiochemistry laboratory were set up. A grant was also awarded by Aberdeen Royal Hospitals NHS Trust from Endowment Funds towards the cost of a new building on the Foresterhill site.
University Principal Professor C Duncan Rice said he was honoured that Mr Galbraith had agreed to open the new facility which will help maintain the University’s position at the leading edge of medical imaging technology.
“As the only Centre north of Cambridge, we will be able to provide an extremely valuable medical research tool to benefit the people of Scotland and beyond. The facility will allow us to study the effectiveness of medical treatment, evaluate the efficacy of new drugs and to study in depth the workings of the body.
“Given the magnificent contribution which he has made to the development of medical imaging techniques, and his own long-held belief in the power of PET scanning, it is highly appropriate that we name the Centre after Professor Mallard.”
Professor Graeme Catto, Chief Scientist at the Scottish Office and Vice-Principal at the University of Aberdeen, added: “Only two years ago, the University opened the Institute of Medical Sciences on the Foresterhill site, an initiative which brought scientists and doctors together to seek solutions to some of society’s pressing medical problems.
“The PET imager in the heart of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary maintains that momentum in seeking solutions through collaborative research. This facility, and indeed the Foresterhill site itself, reflects the determination of the University and the Trust to work together in the interest of patients.”
Dr Hance Fullerton, Chairman of Aberdeen Royal Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The Trust was impressed by the substantial clinical and research potential of the facility and we decided to make a grant available from our Endowment Funds towards the cost of a new building on the Foresterhill site.
“As a result of its location, the new Centre is fully integrated into the hospital and I am delighted to see the work come to fruition today. Aberdeen is well-known as a centre of medical research and treatment excellence. This excellent facility builds on an already significant range of state-of-the-art equipment available on the Foresterhill site.”
Commenting on the importance of the Centre to the Scottish scientific community, Professor Sir Stewart Sutherland, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, said: “Developments in science and technology are important for Scotland. From the telephone to television and the microchip we have a high reputation for innovation.
“Medical advances in particular, now require colleagues from different disciplines and often from different parts of the country to work closely together on specific projects to improve treatment for patients. The PET imager in Aberdeen will, I believe, foster high quality collaborative studies in both basic science and in health-care. Patients in Scotland and far beyond will ultimately benefit.”
Notes to Editors:
Explanation of terminology:
* Tomography means images of slices through the body
* Positrons are a type
of radiation given off by some radioactive materials. This radiation
is used to produce the images.
* A cyclotron makes the positron emitting radioactive materials by bombarding them with a beam of high energy particles. It can make radioactive versions of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen etc.
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