Open Access paper an opportunity for coordinated global response to major scientific challenges

Open Access paper an opportunity for coordinated global response to major scientific challenges

International cutting-edge bioimaging facilities network, Global BioImaging, has published a paper highlighting the value of open access imaging core facilities for researchers, imaging scientists, industry and funders.

Open access imaging core facilities underpin a wide range of positive outcomes for society. They empower excellent research to address global challenges, encourage innovative cross-disciplinary collaborations, and enable re-usability of imaging data for new research.

The National Imaging Facility (NIF) and Microscopy Australia are the Australian members of Global BioImaging’s network of imaging infrastructures and communities and are continually working to strengthen national contributions to the global scientific community.

As contributors to the paper, National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS)-funded facilities, NIF and Microscopy Australia, are working to further coordination and integration of national investments in research infrastructure.

Microscopy Australia CEO, Prof. Julie Cairney said the paper recognised Australia as a leader in the global landscape but underlined the opportunities that open access imaging infrastructure enables internationally.

“The paper recognises scientific, technical and data challenges as universal rather than restricted by geographical boundaries,” Prof Cairney said.

“Investment in open access imaging infrastructure enables researchers to respond in a collaborative and coordinated manner to critical issues such as the current health, climate change, sustainable agriculture and environmental protection challenges and provide benefits on a global scale.”

NIF CEO, Prof Wojtek Goscinski said the document provides valuable insight into beneficial aspects of a coordinated approach to utilising imaging technologies to reach global goals.

“Open access imaging core facilities have the potential to open doors to addressing deeply embedded so­cio-economic challenges, the sharing of good practices, and knowledge,” Prof Goscinski said.

“This paper provides a unique opportunity for international discussion and cooperation to investigate prospects to strengthen cutting-edge imaging capability and research capacity on a global scale, with possible outcomes to better standards of living across the board.”

Click here to read Global BioImaging’s paper “Added Value of Open Access Imaging Core Facilities”

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.


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.

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