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On hand at the dedication of the Vanderbilt Institute of Imaging Science were, from left, Wright Pinson, M.D., Martin Sandler, M.B., Ch.B., Steven Gabbe, M.D., Jeremy Kaye, M.D., Edward Nelson, Gordon Gee, Dennis Hall, Ph.D., John Gore, Ph.D., Nicholas Zeppos, Harry Jacobson, M.D., and Jeffrey Balser, M.D., Ph.D. Photo by Tommy Lawson

Institute set to sharpen imaging capability

BY: BILL SNYDER

Brain image obtained by the new 7 Tesla MRI scanner at the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science shows a transaxial cross section through the brain of a healthy volunteer. 
Image courtesy of John Gore, Ph.D.

12/01/2006 - Brain image obtained by the new 7 Tesla MRI scanner at the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science shows a transaxial cross section through the brain of a healthy volunteer. Image courtesy of John Gore, Ph.D.

The Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science was dedicated on Nov. 17 during a reception attended by university officials and members of the Board of Trust.

Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs, said the four-floor, $19.7 million facility, built in a little more than a year, is the “embodiment of what may be a world-changing place.”

“From the very beginning, we have envisioned this institute as the means by which we devise new ways of seeing, and formulate novel methods to open up countless new realms of exploration in disciplines from neuroscience to cancer,” Jacobson said.

Chancellor Gordon Gee said the new center, located at the corner of Garland Avenue and 21st Avenue South, represents the confluence of traditionally separate disciplines of medicine, engineering, physics, biology and the social sciences. “We're all one university,” he said. Within the institute, Gee added, “are formed entirely new ways to represent and communicate information, even create information … in other words, it's a mighty damn fine building.”

The institute contains one of the world's most powerful magnet resonance imaging (MRI) scanners.

The 7-Tesla scanner, built by Philips Medical Systems, enables researchers to generate images down to the molecular level. One Tesla is roughly 20,000 times the strength of the magnetic field of the earth.

But brainpower is what really drives the institute. Its director, John Gore, Ph.D., is “a visionary who … has the unique capacity to see where the state of the art will be in the next decade,” Jacobson said.

Edward G. Nelson, chairman of the Medical Center Board and a member of the university Board of Trust, cited the “vision and dedication” of top medical center officials including Steven Gabbe, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine, Jeffrey Balser, M.D., Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Research, and Martin Sandler, M.B., Ch.B., associate vice chancellor for Hospital Affairs and former chair of Radiology and Radiological Sciences.

Gore, in turn, thanked Balser's predecessor, Lee Limbird, Ph.D., for encouraging him to apply for initial funding from the National Center for Research Resources; the Office of Research, which “shared the vision;” and the Medical Center's Office of Space and Facilities, architect Lord, Aeck & Sargent and Turner Construction Co., which brought the project to fruition.

With more than 85 faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and staff, the institute will work to keep Vanderbilt “at the front” of imaging science, Gore said.

“By every measure we're already (in) the top handful of centers in the world for imaging research,” he said. “We intend to become world leaders in imaging science and molecular imaging and new applications of imaging in medicine.”

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