Eighteen months since the first spade-in-the-ground and we now have a brain imaging facility unique in Europe. In many ways it is an astonishing achievement that will place Cardiff University—without exaggeration—in a competitive position on the world stage in developing imaging techniques and in understanding how the body works—the brain primarily, but also how organs and limbs work.
Such a massive achievement didn’t happen overnight. The original Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre investment—some ten years ago now—was in a purpose-built building along with two scanners: the then leading edge technologies of Magnetoencephalography (MEG) and Magnetic Resonance Imagery (MRI), followed later by Electroencephalography (EEG). These are all means of delivering information of how the brain works; each has its own ‘angle’ on the brain’s operation, so each yields slightly different information. Put together, these methods give a more complete understanding of the brain. In those ten years the Brain Research Imaging Centre’s multi-disciplinary research team built an enviable reputation for doing cutting edge research, to the point where the demand for the facilities outstripped the then Centre’s capacity to deliver.
Looking back at the last 18 months, it’s quite difficult to believe just how much progress has been made. It’s a large building—well, very large—and it contains space for 200 people, researchers, professional staff and visitors, with five scanners of different types, along with laboratory facilities for the analysis of behaviour (including a large sleep laboratory, testing areas for cognitive performance, as well as biomechanical functioning). The project was technically complex; the scanners are large, delicate and highly technologically-advanced instruments. That the project has finished to time and to budget is nothing short of remarkable; it speaks to the strength of the Brain Research Imaging Centre team—under the leadership of Derek Jones—as well as a very highly professional estates team, but also to the incisive support of individuals such as Gabe Treharne (Vice-Chair of Council) who brought skills from the commercial domain to bear, and Elizabeth Treasure’s foresight in fostering our Brain Research Imaging Centre’s ambition to work at scale.
The Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre is a truly remarkable building. There are exciting times ahead for those lucky enough to be using the new facility and I would urge anyone interested to visit during one of the open days.