Donation to provide new home for next phase of new MRI technology

Donation to provide new home for next phase of new MRI technology

The next generation of MRI scanning technology will take a major step forward thanks to a generous £600,000 donation from a charity founded by a family with long established links to the University of Aberdeen.

The Mary Jamieson Hall and John F. Hall Trust has donated funds to create an imaging suite where the new Fast Field-Cycling MRI scanner will be built.

FFC-MRI has been developed at the University - where the first whole-body MRI scanner was built in 1980 - and is potentially the next step-change in MRI technology.

The technology can identify disease at an earlier stage and in more detail than existing MRI scanners. Its development is also supported by a 6.6 million Euro Horizon-2020 research grant.

In addition to the imaging suite, the donation will be used to fund a medical physics lectureship post: The Hall Family Lectureship in Medical Physics.

The Mary Jamieson Hall and John F. Hall Trust was created by the Hall family which in 1880 founded the building firm which went on to be known across Scotland as Alexander Hall & Sons, Ltd. The firm became Hall & Tawse in the mid-1980s and that company was bought by Mansell in 1997. The Hall name ultimately exited the building trade when Mansell was bought by Balfour Beatty in 2007.

The Hall building firm played a significant role in shaping the face of Aberdeen and Scotland – in addition to building the University of Aberdeen’s Fraser Noble and Taylor buildings, it worked on Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Balmoral Castle to name but a few.

A prototype of the FFC-MRI scanner has already been built and successfully tested on patients and healthy volunteers.

The next incarnation of the scanner will be built inside the new facility, which the Hall Trust donation will support. It will be known as the Hall Family Imaging Suite and will be located within Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Due to its location at the heart of the region’s main teaching hospital, the new imaging suite will allow the research team to scan many more patients using the ground-breaking FFC-MRI scanner.

Professor David Lurie, Biomedical imaging expert and leader of the FFC-MRI project, said: “We are really excited to be entering this next, crucial stage of the development of FFC-MRI and we are extremely grateful to the Mary Jamieson Hall and John F. Hall Trust for supporting the creation of this new imaging suite and funding a crucial Lectureship post. We have been very fortunate to appoint FFC expert Dr. Lionel Broche to the Lectureship – he already has excellent ideas on how to take our research forward.

“The new imaging suite will allow us to scan a much wider range of patients than before. Its location in the hospital will make it easy for patients to have an MRI scan immediately following their FFC-MRI appointment, which will help us to determine what extra diagnostic information is provided by our new imaging technology and how it can be used in the future to aid diagnosis.”

The Mary Jamieson Hall and John F. Hall Trust’s head Trustee, Jim Birnie – who worked for Alexander Hall & Sons and its successor companies for 40 years, beginning as an apprentice and retiring as Managing Director – said: “As Trustees our thoughts over the past two years have been focused on identifying the best use of the Trust’s remaining funds and, in particular, to select projects which best reflect the wishes of the Hall family. Over many years, the Hall family were great supporters of all aspects of education and training, both within their company and elsewhere. They also made several major contributions towards medical projects focused on conditions which are common in Scotland. Looking back at the Hall family’s legacy, we are delighted to be able to support the development of the next phase of the development of MRI technology and wish to thank all the staff at the University who have helped and guided us along the way. We look forward to the completion of the Hall Family Imaging Suite during 2020.”

Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya, Head of the University of Aberdeen School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, added: “The Fast Field Cycling MRI project has the potential to diagnose disease sooner and with greater precision in a way which could potentially save many lives in future.

“The Hall family supported medical causes in Aberdeen generously for many years. We are grateful for their contribution to medical research and treatment over the years and feel especially privileged to receive their contribution towards this new imaging suite and lectureship post through the Trust.”