A new MRI scanner facility that will help expand vital research into heart and circulatory diseases has opened at Glenfield Hospital.
MRI scanners are used to produce detailed images of the inside of the body using strong magnetic fields and radio waves. Currently researchers in Leicester are able to scan 500 cardiovascular research participants a year. The new facility will increase this to 1500 and allow for new research into metabolism at rest and exercise, capabilities only available in a handful of centres across the UK.
The new scanner facility has been funded by a £1 million grant from the British Heart Foundation (BHF). It will be jointly owned by Leicester’s Hospitals, which has dedicated £2.1 million to the facility, and the University of Leicester.
The joint ownership of the facility will allow for improved patient clinical care as well as increasing capacity for cardiovascular research for both the University of Leicester and the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) – a partnership between Leicester’s Hospitals, the University of Leicester and Loughborough University.
Rebecca Brown, acting chief executive at Leicester’s Hospitals explained: “We’re so proud to work with the British Heart Foundation and the University of Leicester to bring this new facility into the hospital.
“These scanners will be part of our hospital in daily use, which will increase the availability of scans and speed up the process for our patients who need them, both by increased number of MRI scanner available, and by the improvement in technology that the new facility provides.”
“We will also be able to offer more opportunities for people to take part in research locally, which will lead to improved care for our community in the future.”
The launch of the new MRI scanner facility builds on the successes of cardiovascular research in Leicester. The imaging team have secured over £9M in external grants and published over 100 papers in the last five years, influenced guideline changes for coronary artery disease, and have been the largest recruiter for a study intro multi-organ imaging for COVID-19.
Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor University of Leicester spoke at the launch. He said: “This fantastic new facility is an example of the dynamic and fruitful partnership between the University, Hospital Trust, and the British Heart Foundation.
“Partnership is key to our success as we emerge from this pandemic in the assured knowledge that, together, we are stronger, and this places us in an eminent position to make a transformative change in terms of research and patient-centred health benefits.”
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “The BHF currently funds over £15 million of life saving research at the University of Leicester, and it’s important that researchers have access to the most advanced tools they need.
“This upgraded scanner will produce more detailed images of the heart faster, which will benefit both researchers and patients. Investments like this are a vital part of making discoveries happen and turning them into medical advances that could transform and save lives.
“Funding provided by the BHF has only been made possible by the generosity of the public, whose donations we rely on to fund our vital research into heart and circulatory diseases.”
For those interested in health research at Leicester’s Hospitals and who want to hear about opportunities to take part, sign up to Leicester’s Research Registry to receive regular email updates. Visit the website to join: www.leicestershospitals.nhs.uk/researchregistry