Message from the CEO: 2021 in review and thank you

Dear colleagues 

As we wrap up our activities in 2021, I wanted to take the opportunity to look back at some of our key achievements over the past year, acknowledge the impactful work of our cutting-edge network of teams across Australia and thank you for your contribution to NIF. 

The National Imaging Facility (NIF) provides state-of-the-art facilities and services that support critical leading-edge innovation and research, but our capability is much more than these instruments and equipment. The NIF network is privileged to comprise of a range of highly skilled experts across our Nodes, enabling projects that have the potential to improve Australia’s standard of living and strengthen our economic standing. As a network, we provide capabilities that underpin nationally significant and impactful research, which translates to products and benefits for the Australian public.  

The NIF network grew this year with new partners, La Trobe University and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, Macquarie University, and the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Medical Research Institute, joining to expand vital opportunities for synergy within NIF’s research capabilities. 

Over the past year, NIF facilities have: performed preclinical testing of a ground-breaking and simple to use ‘field ventilator’, helped underpin the development of the first disease modifying therapy for AD approved by the FDA, congratulated the team behind one of TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2021, Synchron’s Stentrode which was tested on one of our 7T instruments, and we partnered with Global BioImaging to deliver a series of webinars exploring applications of biomedical imaging in health and disease.  

Thank you to the NIF Board and its Chair, Prof Margaret Harding, Partner Advisory Committee, Scientific Advisory Committee and Fellows for your essential support and contribution to making cutting-edge imaging capabilities accessible to Australian researchers. Your commitment and expertise are vital to enabling Australian imaging science to unlock solutions to major challenges emerging on a global scale. Special thanks to the team at NIF Central, particularly Saba and Bec for their outstanding work during a challenging year, and a warm welcome to Alex. In the new year, we look forward to welcoming new members of the NIF Central team.  

Finally, I’d like to extend my thanks to you all for welcoming me to the NIF in June this year. It has been a privilege to step into the role of Chief Executive Officer. Over the past year, NIF has evolved through some significant changes, and we have all continued to adapt our work to continue at the forefront of research and service delivery in parallel with the ongoing effects of the global pandemic. Planning is underway for the next stages of growth and development for the NIF, particularly as we respond to the exposure draft of the 2021 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap, enabling Australia to maintain its research excellence, increase innovation and address emerging research challenges. As we look to the future, I am confident the work our dedicated teams throughout the country are undertaking now is positioning the NIF in excellent stead for 2022. 

The NIF office will shut down from 22 December to 10 January. With the reopening of the State borders, I look forward to the opportunity to spend more time meeting in person in 2022. My warmest wishes for an enjoyable and safe Christmas break, and I look forward to working with you all next year.  

Thank you for your contributions to NIF.  

Wojtek Goscinski
Chief Executive Officer

NIF’s capabilities grow with new Nodes

The National Imaging Facility’s (NIF) capabilities are expanding with three leading research institutions joining the national network, La Trobe University’s school of Cancer Medicine, the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI), Macquarie University, and the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) Imaging Centre.

The new nodes will further diversify NIF’s network to include research capability and training in rural and remote communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities and cutting-edge molecular imaging for treating cancer and cognitive decline. The NIF network will grow from 10 national nodes to 13 across Australia and will strengthen research expertise in dementia, brain concussion imaging, cancer biology, neurodegenerative diseases, molecular imaging probes for cancer, and drug development.

NIF’s first regional node, located in Newcastle is a joint partnership with the HMRI Imaging Centre and the University of Newcastle, and will provide direct links with regional and rural communities, facilitated through the University’s established regional research engagement programs, improving health research outcomes in remote and vulnerable populations and support Aboriginal communities whose health priorities include deafness, renal disease, and neurodegenerative disorders.

“The HMRI Imaging Centre is delighted to be joining NIF. We deliver important translational imaging research for the wider Hunter region and bridge the gap between urban, regional and rural communities. The facility is an international leader in human foetal imaging and spectroscopy and supports flagship translational projects in cancer, dementia, psychosis, inflammatory diseases and cardiorespiratory disease” said Professor Michael Breakspear, Node Co-director from the University of Newcastle and the HMRI Imaging Centre.

Associate Professor Saad Ramadan, Node Co-director from the University of Newcastle and the HMRI Imaging Centre, said the centre facilitates fundamental discovery research and technical developments in sequence optimization and implementation and its partnership with the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD) and NSW Regional Health Partners. The facility supports multiple institutional, community and industrial partners including Corvia Medical Inc. and Australian Cardiovascular Alliance (ACvA).

The new Macquarie University Node provides national access to pre-clinical medical and research imaging capabilities within MQ Health and has a full biomedical imaging suite including (x-ray, CT, MRI, PET) located within Macquarie University Hospital (MUH); and magnetoencephalography (MEG) and related electrophysiological recording technologies located within the Australian Hearing Hub. The new NIF node has the only paediatric MEG facility in Australia and is one of only two in the country.

Macquarie University’s Professor of Radiology, John Magnussen said the facility supports studies of children who have developmental disorders and has integrated radiology and molecular imaging facilities that allows for time critical clinical research to inform and improve patient recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

“This environment allows access to high-quality imaging techniques and datasets with relevant clinical information and supports dementia brain imaging that will inform a national framework for concussion imaging and capacity for pharma-sponsored clinical trials. There are more than 100 actives trials, which give broad access to the community and researchers and we are thrilled to be part of NIF providing open access to imaging expertise,” Professor Magnussen said.

La Trobe’s University’s School of Cancer Medicine, ONJCRI is at the frontier of cancer medicine, with over 200 ongoing clinical trials, providing patients with access to experimental and breakthrough treatments including immunotherapies, targeted therapies and personalised medicine.

The new La Trobe-ONJCRI node will provide an integrated molecular imaging program that extends from laboratory research, including biology, chemistry, biotechnology, through to novel probe radiochemistry and validation in animal imaging (PET and MRI) prior to human trials.

Professor Andrew Scott AM, Director of the La Trobe-ONJCRI node said “We are excited to be joining NIF. This exciting partnership and the installation of a preclinical PET/3T MRI scanner in a dedicated imaging suite within our facility will enable ongoing and enhanced basic and translational research to be performed, linked to our world-class radiochemistry and human PET facilities on site. With the increased capacity we look forward to further collaborations with academia, Pharma and Biotech to facilitate research, drug development and clinical studies”.

NIF’s Chief Executive Officer, Professor Wojtek James Goscinski said NIF is excited to welcome three outstanding facilities to our network which will provide Australian researchers with access to a range of unique instruments across three new sites, and Australia’s network of applied imaging expertise, with this addition, National Imaging Facility capabilities span 14 sites.

“I’d like to welcome the three nodes and their international imaging research leaders to the NIF network – their extensive and diverse research capability and expertise will improve Australians’ access to better healthcare, foster socio-economic equity for rural and remote communities and inform our global imaging communities on world-class research in dementia, brain and concussion imaging, cancer biology and drug development”.

National Imaging Facility is funded by the Australian Government, under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), State Governments, and its partners.


Neuro Imaging to examine high rates of dementia in older Aboriginal Australians

Early life stress (ELS) has been linked to abnormalities in brain structure and function and may contribute to increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia later in life. ELS has also been associated with the high prevalence of dementia observed in older Aboriginal Australians.

A study at NIF’s UNSW Node, NeuRA Imaging is engaging the Australian Aboriginal community to investigate structural and pathological brain changes that underlie in high rates of dementia and cognitive decline in older Aboriginal Australians.

This will be the first study that investigates neuroimaging in cognitive impairment in older Aboriginal Australians and will inform dementia prevention, diagnosis and policy. It will also contribute to the wider literature on vascular risk in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and associated biomedical and social risk factors.

After extensive community engagement with partnering Aboriginal communities including La Perouse, NSW, the initial consultation stage of NeuRA’s Koori Growing Old Well Study indicated that neuroimaging should be included in future dementia studies (Lavrencic et al., 2020, Int Psychogeriatr). Led by NeuRA’s, researchers including Dr Kylie Radford, Professor Tony Broe AM and Dr Louise Lavrencic, the Koori Growing Old Well Study included a community planning survey, pilot MRI study and guidance from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Steering Committee.

“NIF’s capabilities are allowing this study to investigate underlying brain changes and pathology in ageing and dementia in partnership with Aboriginal communities. The study will give greater detail and is using sophisticated and novel MRI techniques. By having the facility in-house at NeuRA it also means we can ensure a culturally safe and welcoming environment for our participants. With a rapidly ageing population and high rates of dementia, we hope that this ground breaking study will shed light on important ways to promote healthy brain ageing with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” said Dr Kylie Radford, Senior Research Scientist and Group Leader, Neuroscience Research Australia.

The neuroimaging sub-study is a prospective, cross-sectional non-interventional study where participants will first complete a comprehensive interview and diagnostic assessment as part of the Koori Growing Old Well study. Consenting participants (200) aged 55+ will undergo MR scans with an expected study completion by 2023.

The outcome analyses will include identifying associations between cognitive impairment and hippocampal atrophy/volume and vascular indices on MR. Vascular pathology will be examined for cases of possible or probable Alzheimer’s disease compared to a cognitively intact control group. Correlations between MR measures and early life stress, adult risk and protective factors, cognitive function, and clinically diagnosed cognitive impairment will be investigated.

Better detection and treatment of dementia

Biogen’s Aducanumab (Aduhelm) is the first disease modifying therapy for AD approved by the The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). NIF’s positron emission tomography (PET) imaging facilities at the University of Melbourne, HIRF and the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) supported the Australian trial recruitment of the Biogen Phase 3 trial by screening potentially suitable participants with amyloid PET scans in collaboration with the Australian Imaging Biomarkers and Lifestyle Study of Ageing at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and Austin Health.

To prescribe the treatment for prodromal and early clinical AD it will be necessary to use imaging both PET and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)/blood biomarkers to ensure that subjects being treated have AD and that side effects from Aduhelm are properly managed.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia making up 70% of all dementia. There are about 300,000 Australians currently living with the disease, with the average disease duration of 10 years equating to 30,000 new cases each year. These numbers are predicted to triple by 2050.

The degeneration within the brain begins two to three decades before overt symptoms, highlighting early detection is critical. NIF’s University of Melbourne Node and the Herston Imaging Research Facility (HIRF) have been involved in several dementia trials, studying different aspects of the disease including early biomarker detection, combining state of the art multimodality imaging, genetics and neuropsychology. NIF is working to assess novel radiotracers as a diagnostic tool for early detection of AD and the development of a national network of radiotracers for dementia screening in collaboration with QTRaCE and the Australia Dementia Network (ADNeT). This research aids the success of new preventative medicines, both through repurposing an existing drug and novel drug development and improves classification of AD subtypes, which impact treatment profiles.

NIF has played a major role in helping Australia to maintain its leadership in imaging applied to the dementias, particularly in AD. This has occurred at multiple sites around the country since 2012. The advent of disease modifying therapies for AD will cause an increase in demand for services and it will be crucial for new innovative and cost effective methods of service delivery in our increasingly ageing population.

Join the radiotracer network for up-to-date data

The Radiotracer Finder app connects producers and users of radioisotopes and radiotracers. National Imaging Facility (NIF) Radiotracer team have collected data from radiochemistry laboratories around Australia to identify radiotracer and radioisotope production and availability.

This NIF online initiative locates which radiotracers are available and which groups to contact so you can efficiently plan projects. The Radiotracer team have transferred the collated data into a mobile app using Glide. The app is now open for public use and contributions to grow the current database.

1. Visit

2. Sign in and add your name and email

The minimum identification required is a valid email and your name. Your email address will be kept confidential and is not accessible by other users. Your email will be used for authentication only.

For further information on how to use the Radiotracer app or to add your radiotracers contact us on

Welcome NIF’s new Chief Executive Officer, Professor Wojtek James Goscinski

The NIF Board and the University of Queensland are delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Wojtek James Goscinski as the National Imaging Facility’s (NIF) new Chief Executive Officer who will lead the next stage of NIF’s growth and development.

Professor Goscinskiis the founding coordinator and platform Director of MASSIVE, a specialist Australian high-performance computing facility for imaging and visualising everything from biological molecules, new materials to whole human bodies.

He is the lead chief investigator on the Australian Characterisation Commons at Scale project, a partnership between the Australian Research Data Commons, the National Imaging Facility, Microscopy Australia, and nine Australian Universities. 

He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Euro Bioimaging European Research Infrastructure Consortium, a European sister-facility to NIF, and has previously chaired infrastructure and standards governance programs under the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Faculty.

Professor Goscinskiis a leader in imaging informatics, having led many projects in this domain over the past ten years and is currently an Associate Director at the Monash eResearch Centre and a Professor of Practice at Monash University.

“I’m excited and honoured to be working with the Australian National Imaging Facility community. Australia is a powerhouse in medical and scientific imaging and I’m thrilled to play my part by facilitating Australian researchers with access to transformational instruments”, said Professor Wojtek James Goscinski.

The National Imaging Facility (NIF) would like to acknowledge and thank founding NIF Director Professor Graham Galloway for his outstanding contribution to imaging in Australia as he finishes in his role as NIF Chief Executive Officer.  

Graham has been instrumental in establishing collaborative research infrastructure nationally and his leadership, passion and dedication as founding Director of NIF and Chief Executive Officer for the past 15 years will have significant impact on the Australian research capabilities for future generations.

NIF warmly welcomes Wojtek to the NIF community and wishes Graham all the best in his new endeavours. 

Thank you and farewell Professor Graham Galloway

The National Imaging Facility (NIF) would like to acknowledge and thank founding NIF Director Professor Graham Galloway for his outstanding contribution to imaging in Australia as he finishes his role as NIF Chief Executive Officer.

Graham has been instrumental in establishing collaborative research infrastructure nationally. His vision led to the formation of NIF and his enormous efforts in the 2016 Research Infrastructure Road Map expanded NIF capabilities nationally.

Graham’s leadership, passion and dedication as founding Director of NIF and Chief Executive Officer for the past 15 years will have significant impact on the Australian research capabilities for future generations.

“It has been an incredible privilege to have been part of a dedicated team and I thank them all for their unending loyalty and support. I am particularly indebted to the staff of NIF Central, without whom none of this would have been possible. The strength of NIF is not in the hardware alone, but the expertise of the Facility Fellows, whose commitment has enabled the great research. Finally, I have been blessed being part of the wider national research infrastructure, and I thank my many NCRIS family colleagues, who I count as valued friends.” Professor Galloway said.

NIF acknowledges Graham’s tireless work in imaging and a research career that has always placed him at the forefront of developments in the field, from his first postdoctoral fellowship at Oxford University, coinciding with the arrival of the first whole body magnetic resonance system capable of performing MR spectroscopy, to leading the team to install the first 7T MRI in Australia. Graham was further recognised by the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) as the 2021 ISMRM Fellow of the Society for his establishment of national and international infrastructure. An acknowledgment for his pioneering work in building national imaging research facilities and programs, and for national and international leadership in MRI technology and education

The NIF Board and the University of Queensland are delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Wojtek James Goscinski as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Imaging Facility to lead the next stage of NIF’s growth and development.

Wojtek has been the founding Coordinator and Platform Director of MASSIVE, a national high-performance data processing and analytics facility at Monash University with national impact and an international profile. He leads the Australian Characterisation Commons at Scale project, which is a partnership between the Australian Research Data Commons, the National Imaging Facility, Microscopy Australia, and nine Australian Universities. 

NIF would like to warmly welcome Wojtek to the NIF community and wish Graham all the best in his new endeavours.

Future Capabilities

NIF is committed to enabling nationally significant research and meeting the unmet needs of imaging infrastructure in the Australian scientific community. NIF has awarded the following successful partners to realise essential capabilities for the research community.

Preclinical PET/3T MRI
La Trobe University and Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute
This research capability will allow cutting-edge research into metabolic and signalling changes occurring in cancer, neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular disease, infection and inflammatory diseases to be evaluated in suitable orthotopic and transgenic models. It will also provide essential imaging capability for sophisticated translational research.

Joint investment
Alpha radioisotopes, microdosimetry and radiopharmaceuticals facility
Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and the University of Queensland
This investment will develop an integrated national capability targeted at alpha particle therapeutics. The application of alpha particle therapeutics develops key capabilities in production and handling of new isotopes, safety and training for broader dissemination of new technologies, preclinical capabilities allowing imaging and microdosimetry to better understand the mechanism of action as well as potential off-target effects of the new therapies. The capacity will enable clinical translation and commercial development of new innovations in the field.

High-definition, MRI-compatible EEG for 3T Clinical MRI systems
Neuroscience Research Australia/Prince of Wales Hospital
A system to enable and support local, national and international research programs that need to reliably ascertain brain state by electroencephalogram (EEG) at the same time as MR imaging information is collected. Simultaneous EEG and MRI is relevant to research into functional brain studies; sleep and sleep disorders; mental health; acute and chronic pain; and conditions involving EEG abnormalities such as epilepsy. This investment will generate outcomes and impact in three major research themes, sleep, pain and epilepsy.

MRI Guided High-Intensity Focussed Ultrasound system and compatible 3T MRI
The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health
This equipment will establish the Australian High-Intensity Focussed Ultrasound (HIFU) research capability. This will be the first national research capability for ultrasonographic brain lesioning, providing image-guided minimally-invasive personalised neurosurgery. It will enable research teams to develop and translate into the healthcare sector new minimally-invasive HIFU-based treatments for Australians with brain disorders. It will discover, improve and validate therapeutic deep brain ablation methods for more effective treatment of tremor, epilepsy and a range of other neurological conditions.

Plant-Soil Systems imaging capability
The University of Melbourne
An investment that will establish a new national capability in Functional Plant Imaging. This capability, through expertise in plant sciences and imaging technologies nationally and internationally, will address questions about how plants function in today’s and future dynamically changing climates. NIF imaging technologies will support research into the challenges of food security and environmental sustainability for Australian agriculture and natural landscapes, in areas such as water, salinity, nitrogen and phosphorus. This will lay the foundations for Australia to document the impact of production (yield), productivity (yield per resource) and quality (value) of agriculture outputs.

Macquarie University Node membership and 3T MRI
Macquarie University
This investment will provide national access to medical and research imaging capabilities within an integrated academic health sciences and private healthcare setting and provide a seamless experience for research participants and researcher access to high-quality imaging datasets (single- and multi-modal) and relevant clinical information. Establishing a NIF node at Macquarie University will embed an integrated academic health sciences centre and will incorporate medical imaging (a full medical imaging suite including x-ray, CT, MRI, PET) located within Macquarie University Hospital (MUH) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) and related electrophysiological recording technologies located within the Australian Hearing Hub. The MEG facility at Macquarie is the only paediatric MEG in Australia which is particularly suited for studies of children who have received Cochlear implants and will strongly complement the MEG capability at Swinburne Node of NIF.

University of Newcastle Node membership
University of Newcastle
This capability will be the first NIF node in regional Australia, with unique links to regional and rural communities, engagement with Aboriginal researchers and communities, which are underpinned by advanced bioinformatics that supports imaging research nationally. The Hunter Medical Research Institute Imaging Centre (HMRI-IC) plays a unique role in the Australian imaging landscape, being regionally located and providing health outcomes directly for regional and rural Australia. It facilitates important translational imaging research and supports a volume of high-end imaging research, supporting discovery and translational science as well as clinical trials. This facility supports translational projects in cancer, dementia, psychosis, inflammatory diseases and cardiorespiratory disease; basic discovery research; and technical developments in sequence optimization and implementation.

NIF’s Professor Fernando Calamante elected President of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine

National Facility of Imaging’s (NIF) Co-Director of the University of Sydney/ANSTO joint node, Professor Fernando Calamante, has been elected President of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM). ISMRM draws on a multidisciplinary membership of over 9,000 clinicians, physicists, engineers, biochemists, and technologists who contribute to discovery, innovation and clinical translation in magnetic resonance.

Prof Fernando Calamante

Professor Calamante’s research is at the forefront of his field and includes the development of novel methods for Diffusion MRI, Perfusion MRI and brain connectivity, and their applications to neurology and neuroscience. He has gained international recognition for his MRI methods including his contribution to the MRtrix software for Diffusion MRI analysis, which is considered one of the most widely adopted tools in the field.

“I feel greatly honoured to have been elected to this role. The ISMRM has played such an important part of my research career and has been the source of so many collaborations and inspiration to my research; it is a real privilege to be able to play my part in contributing to ensuring the ISMRM continues to deliver its vision. These are challenging times, and it will be interesting to see how Societies such as ours react, adapt and evolve in the face of the challenges COVID has given us.” Professor Calamante said.

Professor Calamante is the first researcher from outside Europe or North America to be elected as ISMRM President.

 “It is a great milestone for the ISMRM, and testimony of its international nature and diversity. Having come originally from Argentina and now living in Australia for the last 16 years, I feel I can fly the international flag as ISMRM President. As the first ‘rest of the world’ President, I will do my best to increase the presence of the ISMRM in under-represented regions,” Professor Calamante said.

Professor Calamante is the Director of Sydney Imaging, Core Research Facility at the University of Sydney and Professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering.

NIF Chief Executive Officer, Professor Graham Galloway said he was delighted that Professor Calamante was elected ISMRM president and has been recognised for his expertise in magnetic resonance. ISMRM is recognised by the MR community as the premiere organisation for sharing of discovery and applications and driving the development of MR technology. It brings together basic scientists, engineers, clinicians and industry.  Professor Calamante’s election demonstrates that NIF is at the forefront of leading-edge imaging instrumentation and expertise in imaging technology.

NIF is helping Inflazome in the development of drugs for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease

Inflazome Ltd., a biotech start-up company founded in 2016, has been focusing on development of oral NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitors to address unmet clinical needs in a wide variety of inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. Inflazome was acquired in 2020 by Roche for EUR 380 million, highlighting the value of translational research activities.

Studies undertaken at the QLD Node of NIF have assisted the understanding of Inflazome’s portfolio of inflammasome inhibitors and helped drug candidates created by Inflazome proceed to clinical trials. Preclinical PET/MR, PET/CT, and radiotracer production were used to test specific critical components of the innate immune system in animal models of Parkinson’s disease and neuroinflammation.
These works were undertaken as a research collaboration led by Prof Matt Cooper from Inflazome with animal models provided by Prof Trent Woodruff and Dr Eduardo Albornoz from The School of Biomedical Science at The University of Queensland. Preclinical Imaging was performed by Dr Karine Mardon and Dr Gary Cowin from the QLD NIF Node at The Centre for Advanced Imaging.

This story was contributed by the QLD NIF Node. For more information, please contact Dr Karine Mardon or Dr Gary Cowin

Drawing of an Inflammasome. Image used with permission from Prof. Kate Schroder, IMB, University of Queensland

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