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New Imaging Facility to Help Detect Disease at Earliest Stages
UT Health Science Center, M. D. Anderson and GE Healthcare will collaborate in developing novel agents and technologies
Ground was broken April 10 at The University of Texas Research Park for a joint research facility dedicated to developing novel agents and imaging technologies that detect heart disease, cancer and other illnesses at their earliest – and most treatable or preventable – stages.
The Center for Advanced Biomedical Imaging Research represents a collaboration between The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in cooperation with GE Healthcare and the Texas Enterprise Fund. The center brings together the resources and expertise of academia, government and industry to take imaging beyond its current capacity of visualizing the body’s anatomy.
Key to Prevention and Treatment
“Noninvasive imaging of the heart, brain, blood vessels and cancer in the earliest stages of disease are key to prevention and treatment of some of the catastrophic diseases of our time,” said James T. Willerson, M.D., president of the UT Health Science Center at Houston and president-elect of the Texas Heart Institute. “This facility will allow us to be at the very forefront of prevention and treatment of heart and vascular disease and cancer.”
Scientists from the UT Health Science Center and M. D. Anderson will share the first floor of the building, which is scheduled for completion in late 2009.
The UT Health Science Center will occupy the top two floors of the six-story building, with the top floor dedicated to the nanoparticle program of Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D., professor and director of nanotechnology at The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases (IMM) and president of the Alliance for NanoHealth.
The building also will house the UT Health Science Center’s new Department of Biomedical Engineering. Other UT Health Science Center researchers, under the direction of Vice President for Biotechnology S. Ward Casscells III, M.D., will explore new ways to detect dangerous plaques in the cardiovascular system.
“This project is contagious. We are launching collaborations throughout the region,” said Casscells, who also acknowledged the efforts of Peter Davies, M.D., Ph.D., UT Health Science Center’s executive vice president for research.
According to Davies, the dedicated facility will enable scientists and engineers to work together and accelerate the development of new technologies.
“Our goal is to bring together some of our most talented scientists and biomedical engineers in an environment that will foster their collaboration with colleagues at M. D. Anderson and GE Healthcare,” he said.
The 315,000-square-foot facility is the fourth building to be constructed and one of six centers that will constitute M. D. Anderson’s Red and Charline McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer.
The building will accommodate a translational imaging core that will include major pieces of imaging equipment and physics support supplied by GE Healthcare. New technologies and applications developed by GE Healthcare and M. D. Anderson will be tested on-site as well, helping to move findings quickly into patient care settings.
Additional Buildings Nearby
UT Health Science Center soon will break ground on three additional buildings in the Research Park, close to the Center for Advanced Biomedical Imaging Research. These facilities will include a new Neuroscience Center, a $42 million Biomedical Research and Education Center for stem cell discoveries and a new home for the UT Dental Branch (completion estimated for 2010).
The new dental school likely will cost at least $90 million – but $78 million already is in hand, including $60 million in state Tuition Revenue Bonds and $18 million in UT System Permanent University Funds. The remainder will be solicited from foundations and private individuals in the “Open to Health” fundraising initiative.
By Deborah Mann Lake, Institutional Advancement
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