New 3M Neuroimaging Research Centre Opens at UEA

The University of East Anglia (UEA) has officially opened a neuroimaging research centre worth £3 million. The facility features a state-of-the-art Siemens 3 Tesla MRI scanner and clinical testing rooms, as well as changing facilities and a waiting room. The centre has been named the Wellcome-Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre, paying homage to both The Wellcome Trust and the Wolfson Foundation after their combined £1.3 million donation has made the centre a possibility.

The Wellcome Trust is a charitable foundation supporting the use of scientific means for research into life, health, and wellbeing. Acting Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at Wellcome, Dr. Raliza Stoyanova, said, “The UK is a world leader in the application of brain imaging and we look forward to seeing the exciting science that the new UEA Wellcome-Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre will enable”. Similarly to The Wellcome Trust, the Wolfson Foundation awards grants to promote ‘excellence’ in a variety of fields, including science. With respect to these wishes, the new neuroimaging centre, housed in the School of Psychology at UEA, will give great support to experts who want to partake in ground-breaking and important research into the brain. Professor David Richardson, the Vice-Chancellor and President of UEA, has stated that the new centre aligns itself with “UEA’s ambitious neuroimaging research agenda” and expressed how it would “improve people’s lives”.

Across UEA, experts will collaborate to research a multitude of intricacies, such as the development of the brain in childhood, the changes that occur in the brain during the ageing process or as a result of dementia, and how the brain responds to trauma. It is hoped this range of research could help to develop new diagnostic tools, alongside methods of early identification of disease risks, and rehabilitative techniques for neurological conditions. 

Whilst the MRI scanner is the first of its kind in Norfolk to be used solely for research purposes, other researchers across the region, such as from the University of Essex, the University of Kent, and Anglia Ruskin University, will also be invited to use the facility in order to contribute to the collaboration between scientists and universities, with the ultimate goal of advancing scientific knowledge.

The centre has already had its first two participants. As part of Professor John Spencer’s research in the School of Psychology, two children were scanned to explore early brain development. It is hoped this research could lead to interventions that will support children who may be vulnerable to developmental disorders.

Professor David Richardson is now looking on to the future of the research centre. He hopes UEA will be able “to identify a further generous donor or charity who can help us develop our Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Laboratory and Electroencephalography (EEG) Suite”. With the potential addition of the TMS and EEG suites, as well as a mock scanner, The Wellcome-Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre will be able to further enhance the data produced to [changed structure] improve the overall quality of the research undertaken.

UEA has expressed its deep gratitude to The Wellcome and Wolfson Foundation and is looking forward to the future advancements in the understanding of the brain that their support has enabled. 

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Rachel Keane

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October 2021
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