#ImagingTheFuture: The world-leading impact of the Australian biomedical imaging community

It’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s #ImagingTheFuture Week, celebrating the remarkable impact of the international biomedical imaging community.

We’re privileged to partner with our NCRIS colleagues at Microscopy Australia to present some of Australia’s impactful imaging projects, supported by our national research infrastructure.

Through open access to state-of-the-art expertise, equipment, tools, data and analysis, we’re proud to empower Australian medical researchers, materials and agriculture scientists to address pressing challenges across research and industry.

The power of advanced imaging technology is driving solutions for Australia’s strategic science and research priorities, fostering innovation, supporting industry and contributing to our health and wellbeing.

Scroll down to read more about some of the impactful and innovative biomedical imaging projects we support through our Preclinical and Frontier Imaging, Advanced Human Imaging, Radiopharmaceuticals, and Imaging Data Collections and Partnerships programs, or head over to our socials and the Microscopy Australia website for more Australian imaging.

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About Australia’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS):
The Australian Government Department of Education helps maintain Australia’s reputation as an established global leader in world-class research by ensuring researchers have access to cutting edge national research infrastructure supported through the NCRIS program. More information: www.education.gov.au/ncris

Better evidence for decision-making in health

Advanced imaging methods and analysis provide critical evidence for decision-making across all aspects of health and clinical science to keep Australia healthy.
Harnessing MEG to model neural dynamics

Partner: Swinburne University of Technology

Imaging expertise:
A/Prof David White
Dr Will Woods

MEG Facility at Swinburne Neuroimaging.

Miao Cao (Swinburne and Peking University), Jiayi Liu (Peking University), Wei Cui (Peking University), Xiongfei Wang (Capital Medical University Sanbo Brain Hospital), Will Woods (Swinburne), David White (Swinburne), Simon Vogrin (Swinburne), Chris Plummer (Swinburne), Changsong Zhou (Hongkong Baptist University), Jia-hong Gao (Peking University)

Image description:
Modelling neural dynamics from non-invasive MEG recordings has the potential to provide crucial insights in the fast-evolving physiological and pathological activity that gives rise to such dynamics. Combining MEG data acquired at the Swinburne NIF node and 3-D velocity field approaches in epilepsy patients, temporospatial patterns in 3-dimensional brain space were obtained and spiral patterns (including singularities) were revealed at seizure onset region, potentially suggesting highly non-linear dynamics and locally unbalanced excitatory-inhibitory neural networks were developed and progressed at seizure onset (from onset up to 1200ms) within the localised brain region. Such developments build on existing work with MEG technology to emphasise the utility of MEG in understanding brain function in health and disease. 

Enhancing Low-Field MRI Images through Generative Deep Learning

Monash University, The University of Queensland, Herston Imaging Research Facility, SAHMRI, The University of Western Australia

Imaging expertise:
Dr Kh Tohidul Islam

Utilizing paired datasets from 100 healthy participants, images were obtained at Monash Biomedical Imaging facility using Hyperfine Swoop (64mT) and Siemens Biograph mMR (3T) systems. The deep learning model was trained to generate synthetic 3T-like images from 64mT images, and their performance was compared against actual 3T images.

This project is funded by the National Imaging Facility (NIF) and Hyperfine Inc. Special thanks are extended to the NIF at Monash Biomedical Imaging, Monash University, for their facilities and support.

View publication for more information.

Image description:
The image displays MRI scans of a 38-year-old male participant. It includes T1, T2, and FLAIR sequences, each showing four columns: 64mT, 3T, Synthetic 3T, and the difference between 3T and synthetic 3T images. The synthetic images closely resemble the 3T images, demonstrating minimal anatomical variation and highlighting the model’s effectiveness in enhancing 64mT images. This research aims to improve low-field MRI images (64mT) using a Generative Deep Learning method, making them comparable to standard high-field (3T) MRI images.

Better health for the young and older Australians 

Imaging studies that look at conditions in younger and older Australians are essential for understanding and promoting healthy development and ageing.
Early detection of biomarker changes in Huntington’s Disease using PET imaging


Imaging expertise:
Dr Muneer Ahamed
Ms Georgia Williams

Large animal PET scanner at SAHMRI

Expertise and help from radiochemistry team and large animal technicians at SAHMRI and contributions from researchers at University of Antwerp, University of Cambridge and University of Warwick drives this project. The authors acknowledge CHDI Foundation, New York for providing the preclinical models.

Find out more information here.

Image description:
A representative PET image showing [18F]FDOPA uptake in neostriatum in preclinical models.

Huntington’s Disease (HD) is a devastating neurodegenerative condition that causes cognitive, movement and behavioural disturbances, which over time result in progressive disability and eventual death. SAHMRI’s NIF fellows Dr. Muneer Ahamed and Ms. Georgia Williams leading a preliminary feasibility study to validate the use of transgenic preclinical models of HD in PET imaging studies. This study is expected to monitor early-stage (disease onset) and longitudinally evaluate biomarker changes in HD following the slow progression of the HD. This will be first time PET imaging is carried out in this type of HD preclinical model, with the help of NIF’s dedicated large animal PET scanner at SAHMRI.

Growing use of imaging in agriculture and ecology

Imaging is accelerating as an important capability for agricultural and ecological sciences.
Understanding the ecology of coral reefs

University of Western Australia

Imaging expertise:
Ms Diana Patalwala


Mr Damian Thomson, CSIRO

Image description:
Micro computerized tomography (μCT) scans of experimental Porites sp. blocks deployed in the lagoon and on the reef slope Ningaloo Reef for 20 months (605 days). Block images show representative scans of two individual blocks (a) pre- and (b) post-deployment in green, and areas of (c) external and (d) internal erosion post-deployment in red.

Porites corals can reveal the past sea conditions by their oxygen isotopes, which reflect the temperature and rainfall of the seawater. This information is useful for studying how the climate and weather patterns have changed over time, and how physical and biological factors influence the distribution and abundance of organisms on the seafloor.

DTI tractogram of a quokka brain: Exploring how marsuipials adapt to different environments

Biological Resource Imaging Laboratory (BRIL), UNSW

Imaging expertise:
Dr Andre Bongers
Mr Simone Zanoni

Bruker BioSpec Avance III 94/20 Preclinical MRI

Jyothi Thittamranahalli KariyappaSimone ZanoniAndre BongersLydia TongKen W. S. Ashwell

View publication for more information.

Cultural contributions to materials, engineering and culture

Many varied industrial and research problems— such as chemical processes, materials science, environmental and ecosystems research, security, palaeontology and cultural preservation—are increasingly opening up to the benefits of advanced imaging technologies.
Discovery of a new nasal-emitting trident bat from early Miocene forests in northern Australia

Biological Resource Imaging Laboratory (BRIL), UNSW

MILabs U-CT microCT scanner

Suzanne J. HandMichael ArcherAnna GillespieTroy Myers

View publication for more information.

Understanding equine anatomy: Investigating intestinal muscle structure to prevent rupture

Western Sydney University

Diffusion tensor image of a cross-section of equine intestine taken using the 11.7 T MRI at the Biomedical Magnetic Resonance Facility (BMRF) at WSU Campbelltown campus.

Kate Averay1, Denis Verwilghen1, Marianne Keller3, Neil Horadagoda2, Marina Gimeno2

1Camden Equine Centre, University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Camden, Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Australia

2Pathology Services, University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Camden, Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Australia

3Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Australia

Image description:
The research group is looking at equine jejunum rupture and whether there are any anatomical differences in the rupture region. Colour-coding shows the anisotropy of the tissue. The key is on the upper right and shows red is left-right, green is up-down and blue is in and out of the screen. You can clearly see two layers of muscle: the red-green layer wrapping around the intestine and the blue layer running longitudinally.

2023: End of year message from the NIF CEO

Dear NIF Network, 

The past 12 months have been transformative for National Imaging Facility (NIF), Australia’s advanced imaging network. 

In 2023 the Australian Government Department of Education announced NIF would receive a sum of $46m NCRIS funding for 2023 – 2028, supporting Advanced Human Imaging, Preclinical and Frontier Imaging, Radiopharmaceuticals programs, and launching a new dedicated Data Collections and Partnerships program. This funding will allow NIF to address the growth of translational and precision medicine, extend industry use to benefit Australia’s health and wellbeing, and continue to operate, innovate and partner at an exemplary international standard. 

I’d like to acknowledge and thank the NIF network and our collaborators for their contributions to support this process, enabling NIF to advance a strong application, but also to continue to deliver world-class imaging. 

NIF helps translate research into outcomes that address national priorities. In the last year, our network has made headlines. We’ve supported a range of clinical trials, fostering advancements in medical research by helping to test the world’s first disease-modifying drugs to treat dementia, and improving diagnosis accessibility and treatment options for prostate cancer patients. Our cutting-edge experts have enabled scientific breakthroughs including the identification of a link between Long COVID and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, helped find the likely cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder, underpinned studies for novel treatments and the use of VR to help chronic pain sufferers, and harnessed technology to pinpoint epilepsy triggers in the brain. We’re proud to maintain Australia’s world-leading reputation in applying advanced imaging technology, and have deployed low-field MRI for testing in hospitals, underpinned one of only nine international labs holding the prestigious Helmholtz brand and received national media recognition for excellence in preclinical and frontier imaging techniques. Our users are world-class, and we were proud to support the exemplary scientists whose revolutionary work in drug discovery and cystic fibrosis lung health imaging was lauded at the 2023 Eureka Prizes. 

A new generation of services are set to further advance our mission. This year our teams have delivered a range of world-leading new investments and capabilities, including the opening of: 

It was a privilege to bring our national imaging community together in August for NIF’s Annual Scientific Meeting in Melbourne. Hosted in partnership with VBIC, this year’s Symposium was our most successful event to date, with just under 450 attendees from across Australia and the world. 

Engaging with the wider imaging community, our experts presented at a range of national and international events. My personal highlights were our Australian National Total Body PET Facility webinar series which has attracted attention from global communities, and sessions at ANZSNM and RANZCR

These milestones and achievements are a testament to the NIF imaging community – including our network of imaging experts. Over the coming years we look forward to continuing to integrate on a national scale, underpinning NIF’s strong partnerships to support strategic collaborations and maximise impact to benefit Australian industry and help keep Australians healthier. 

As this year draws to a close, I’d like to thank the whole NIF community. 

I extend my gratitude to the NIF Board and its Chair, Prof Margaret Harding. Very special thanks for Ms Sue Renkin and Dr Stephen Rose, who are completing their tenure on the NIF Board. I am grateful that they have contributed their unique expertise to help NIF.

NIF delivers its services through our 14 institutional Partners. Thank you to our national network of Partners, Node Directors, Fellows, and other Partner staff who support Australia’s most advanced imaging capabilities.  

I thank our NIF Central team for their dedication and hard work throughout 2023 to support our national network. 

Finally, thanks to our users who lead impactful projects, and our engaged research imaging participants who make an extremely valuable contribution to improving health outcomes for Australia. 

The NIF Central Office will shut down between 23 December – 2 January, and I wish you an enjoyable and safe holiday break. I look forward to working with you in 2024. 

Best wishes 

Prof Wojtek Goscinski

Revolutionary MRI technology unlocks solutions for foetal growth issues with minimal invasion

In a pioneering initiative, researchers aim to uncover signs of an often-missed condition in unborn babies (called ‘foetal growth restriction’) by adding magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to the suite of screening options for pregnant people.

NIF is working with University of South Australia researchers who collaborate internationally, combining advanced imaging techniques with research models to see intricate processes like foetal blood flow in real time.

Usually, MRI monitoring is only used to understand the most complex foetal health problems, but this is a disadvantage for babies with foetal growth restriction (FGR).

“FGR is generally diagnosed and monitored with ultrasound, but is often missed until the baby is born,” says UniSA Professor Janna Morrison.

These babies do not grow as expected because of a lack of oxygen and nutrients, and experience a greater risk of stillbirth, distress during labour, and an increased risk of problems in later life, such as poor cardiovascular health, impaired brain function, and obesity.

“We are conducting research to understand MRI’s value as a screening tool for FGR, as well as ensuring its safety and efficacy,” Professor Morrison says.

Instead of inducing early labour to avoid stillbirth – with its own potential complications of poor outcomes and time in a neonatal intensive care unit – the researchers are looking at what they can do before birth to ensure FGR babies have a better start in life.

Teams use NCRIS–funded MRI facilities to investigate blood flow

Professor Morrison leads the Early Origins of Adult Health Research Group (EOAHRG), working with NIF MRI facilities and the expertise of Research Radiographer NIF Fellow Georgia Williams, in a collaboration with the Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto), King’s College London and University College London.

The teams use MRI to measure the blood flow and the supply of oxygen in vessels in the foetus and the placenta – part of preclinical studies at the Large Animal Research and Imaging Facility (LARIF), within the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

The ability to access MRI capability in SA came with the future-focused NIF plan that supported construction of LARIF as part of SA Pathology, with NCRIS funding assistance, in 2008. LARIF became part of the Preclinical, Imaging and Research Laboratories (PIRL) and SAHMRI in 2012. LARIF is able to support an array of research, with a range of imaging infrastructure, including x-ray, a cath lab, computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET) and MRI.

With the support of an Australian Research Council Discovery Project and a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Project, EOAHRG accessed the MRI capacity with support from the Federal Government’s research infrastructure roadmap.

[Image: 3D reconstruction of heart ventricles from endocardial contours acquired using MRI: https://doi.org/10.1113/JP279054]

Imaging technology also reveals cardiac function, real-time medicine behaviour

Foetal imaging is challenging because of the challenges with syncing the scanning to the foetal heartbeat, the small size of foetal structures, their unpredictable movement and the discomfort of mothers during a scan, Professor Morrison explains.

But these scanning techniques have already given us a better understanding of how oxygen and nutrient-rich blood streams toward the brain during a baby’s development, say the team.

“We can follow the route for oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood from the umbilical vein, see it bypass the liver and flow through major vessels to the heart, brain and parts of the upper body,” says Professor Morrison.

“The imaging technology also has the potential to give insights in complex flow patterns in congenital heart disease, which can help us develop and test new treatments.”

At the moment, the teams have validated the imaging techniques for foetal oxygenation, blood flow and cardiac function. The real-time blood flow data that tracks medicines have also opened the door for testing FGR therapeutics and interventions.

Ultimately, EOAHRG aspires to give all babies the best start to life, so they can grow into healthy adults. Through the teams’ research with NIF’s capabilities at LARIF, they are on their way to achieving this ambitious goal.

New medical imaging facility to revolutionise research and patient care 

The Australian National Total Body PET Facility officially opens in Sydney today, delivering the first Total Body Positron Emission Tomography (TB-PET) scanner for Australia-wide open access research, as well as clinical use.

The facility will drive advancements in cancer studies, neurological disorders, cardiovascular disease and drug development, and reduce scanning time and radiation doses to transform patient care.

The $15 million facility is a collaborative venture between the University of Sydney, the National Imaging Facility (NIF) and Northern Sydney Local Health District, to benefit Australian patients, clinicians, researchers and industry partners.

Located at Royal North Shore Hospital, the Siemens Biograph Vision Quadra is a revolutionary leap forward in nuclear medical imaging. This cutting-edge device enables comprehensive whole-body imaging in a single scan, significantly reducing radiation exposure and cutting down scanning time from 20 minutes to as little as three, all while delivering higher-quality images.

The ability to scan all tissues and organs simultaneously offers unique insights into whole-body physiology and interactions between organs that no other clinical imaging technology can provide. It presents research opportunities across a wide range of medical applications, such as oncology, neuroscience, cardiology, infectious diseases, and drug discovery – including exploring complex human biology and the way multiple organs interact such as the brain-gut axis.

The facility is Australia’s most sensitive PET scanner dedicated to research, and will be a critical tool for clinical trials and industry collaborations. The ability to image the entire human body allows researchers to observe drug absorption, accumulation and elimination processes in all organs simultaneously.

Reduced radiation and scanning times expand PET imaging options for vulnerable groups such as children in impactful research and clinical studies. It also encourages the participation of healthy individuals in clinical trials and enables repeated scanning of patients to better understand disease progression and treatment effects, broadening medical research insights.

“The collaboration between the University of Sydney, the National Imaging Facility and Northern Sydney Local Health District demonstrates the power of partnerships in driving innovation,” said Professor Mark Scott, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Sydney.

“This facility shows what can be achieved when leading institutions join forces to advance healthcare and research capabilities. We are not only improving the health of patients today, but also utilising this technology to fast-track new discoveries for the future.”

One such study is examining how the molecule oxytocin impacts the brain and body when delivered to humans. Oxytocin is one of the most important natural chemicals in the brain that guides social behaviour. When administered, research shows it can improve social understanding and may have benefits to support people with schizophrenia and autism. However, it is a mystery about where oxytocin is absorbed and the circuits it impacts in the brain and body to cause its effects in humans.

Using the TB PET scanner, a team led by the University of Sydney’s Professor Adam Guastella, will see in real-time the brain and body circuits impacted by oxytocin after its delivery intranasally or by intravenous injection. This has the potential to change fundamental knowledge of the biology of human social behaviour and could lead to a range of new therapies.

The new facility forms part of Sydney Imaging, the University of Sydney’s Core Research Facility for biomedical imaging. As a nationally significant research platform, it is also a flagship of the National Imaging Facility (NIF), through the Australian Government Department of Education’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).

Governing Board Chair of the National Imaging Facility, Professor Margaret Harding, said the NIF’s investment of $8m in the Australian National Total Body PET Facility was its largest to date, and represented Australia’s largest single investment in molecular imaging, underpinning research that is of high priority in reducing Australia’s burden of disease.

“The facility is a unique national asset which will revolutionise Australia’s capacity to attract and support research and industry undertaking clinical trials for the development of new pharmaceuticals and medical products to improve health outcomes for Australia,” Professor Harding said.

The Australian National Total Body PET Facility will operate under an equal time-share arrangement between clinical use and research, ensuring five day per week open access for all researchers throughout Australia.

Speaking to patient benefits, Chief Executive of the Northern Sydney Local Health District, Adjunct Professor Anthony Schembri, said: “Royal North Shore Hospital and Northern Sydney Local Health District have a proud history of delivering world-class imaging and care to improve patient outcomes.

“We are extremely honoured to be hosting this Australian-first where patients can receive world class care, and researchers can use the scanner for clinical research which will translate into improving patient care in the future.”

The University’s contribution to the new facility is underpinned by a bequest made by William Chapman who left the majority of his estate as a gift dedicated to cancer research at the University of Sydney. His legacy is set to have an enormous impact on cancer research and on the survival and quality of life of patients.

The University of Sydney’s Professor Emma Johnston, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), said: “The combined clinical and research arrangements for this amazing medical imaging technology and its location in a bustling hub of activity at Royal North Shore Hospital will foster collaboration among researchers, healthcare providers, policymakers, and industry leaders to fast-track innovation in research translation.”

For more information about the Australian National Total Body PET Facility, including capabilities and bookings for research use visit the Sydney Imaging website.

Media enquiries: Michelle Blowes, Media & PR Adviser (Medicine and Health) University of Sydney M: 0478 303 173 | E: michelle.blowes@sydney.edu.au

National Imaging Facility granted $28m NCRIS funding to strengthen Australia’s advanced imaging network and bolster health research

The Commonwealth Government Department of Education has today announced National Imaging Facility (NIF) will receive $28m under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), to address Australia’s strategic science and research priorities, benefit industry and keep Australians healthy.

The funding is in addition to $18m secured under earlier NCRIS funding rounds for the period of 2023-2028, taking the total sum to $46m.

Minister for Education, the Hon Jason Clare MP said the strategic investment will help to deliver the solutions needed for the challenges ahead.

“These investments allow our world-class universities and researchers to work on game-changing projects that are good for our economy and good for Australia,” Minister Clare said.

Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon Ed Husic MP said the grants will supercharge research efforts in priority areas identified through the Government’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, and will help to cement Australia’s reputation as a centre of global scientific excellence.

“Scientist and researchers making new discoveries can help manufacturers make new products, right here in Australia,” Minister Husic said.

The funding secures NIF’s operations until 2027, supporting Advanced Human Imaging, Preclinical and Frontier Imaging, Radiopharmaceuticals, and Data Collections and Partnerships programs.

Governing Board Chair, Prof Margaret Harding said these programs will enable research targeting diseases with a high burden for Australia, such as neurological disorders, cardiovascular disease and cancer, and will help industry develop new medical products. In addition, the NIF program will provide continued support to agriculture and collections sectors.

“NIF’s national-scale network underpins better healthcare, better medical products, and important research discoveries. Our national platforms include Australia’s most sophisticated imaging equipment which is made accessible to research and industry, and this funding will ensure its continuing impact,” Prof Harding said.

“This funding underscores the valuable expertise of the cutting-edge research infrastructure specialists within NIF’s node partner institutions, and the central role they play in maintaining Australia’s world-leading position in applying advanced imaging technology.

“Our imaging specialists are of the highest calibre and are vital to NIF’s operations – without them our instruments would be inaccessible.

“The unique capabilities that comprise NIF’s network are significant national assets, and this has been recognised by the Australian Government with this announcement,” Prof Harding said.

National Imaging Facility 2023-2027 Program

The Advanced Human Imaging Activity equips and operates Australia’s most advanced human imaging capabilities, instruments, and expertise, and is critical to understanding how the brain functions, studying disease states, understanding how we age, and developing new pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Advanced Human Imaging underpins work that is of high priority in reducing Australia’s burden of disease such as large-scale studies for dementias, epilepsy, MS, stroke, liver and kidney diseases, mental health and cognition.

Preclinical and Frontier Imaging provides infrastructure for advanced imaging of preclinical models, plants and specimens, materials and minerals, all supported by specialised expertise.

The Activity plays a vital role in advancing Australia’s medical, manufacturing and environment industries, and is used to digitise unique national-priority collections.  

Radiopharmaceuticals are a vital nuclear medicine product used for visualising biological processes in medical research through molecular imaging. NIF supports the development of new radiotracers and enables open access to cyclotrons and coordinated supply of cyclotron-produced radioisotopes for research and industry.

Radiopharmaceuticals are critical for medical diagnosis and therapy – the ability to produce radiopharmaceuticals in Australia is an important sovereign capability with significant potential for commercial innovation.

Imaging Data Collections and Partnerships is a new NIF program which will help create imaging data collections of national priority, and deploy the digital infrastructure and expertise required to translate them into valuable information.

NIF will work in partnership to create, establish, and manage imaging data assets, underpinning the next generation of medical research in critical fields, including imaging-based precision medicine studies, and help translate the application of imaging AI solutions into healthcare and products.

Chief Executive Officer, Prof Wojtek Goscinski said NIF’s major growing priority is the boom in large-scale, multi-site studies and clinical trials, and this funding will provide the opportunity to accommodate growth and attract studies important for Australians’ health.

“NIF is focused on supporting coordinated access for researchers, clinicians and industry through our national network to meet this growing demand for multi-site Australian-scale studies,” Prof Goscinski said.

“There are no other organisations with the capacity to unite Australia’s imaging experts and resources, and this sovereign capability has additionally come at a crucial time of expanding industry and research need,” Prof Goscinski said.

Read the joint media release from Minister Clare and Minister Husic here.

Read the Department of Education’s 2023 Research Infrastructure Investment Plan (RIIP) here.

Western Australia’s first advanced human imaging capabilities for research to bolster national studies and improve health outcomes

A new multimillion dollar imaging facility that will underpin potentially life-changing clinical trials in neuroscience, cancer and a new generation of technologies was launched today by Western Australian Science and Medical Research Minister the Hon Stephen Dawson MLC.

The WA National Imaging Facility (WA NIF) Node now houses Western Australia’s first research-dedicated human MRI and PET-CT imaging technologies to add to its existing preclinical capability.

Minister Dawson said the new infrastructure will make it easier for researchers to undertake investigations requiring medical imaging.

“It will also increase opportunities for WA to be involved in nationally coordinated clinical trials, giving WA patients better access to emerging treatments and therapies,” Minister Dawson said.

NIF CEO Professor Wojtek Goscinski said the expansion of NIF’s national network of advanced human imaging capabilities to Western Australia will strengthen Australia’s ability to underpin large-cohort imaging projects including multi-site clinical trials, and in imaging across a representative sample of the Australian population.

“The WA NIF capabilities are essential to support national medical research priorities to keep Australians healthy, including the development of new medical products and pharmaceuticals, clinical research and industry partnerships,” Professor Goscinski said.

“This is also an important opportunity to recognise the world-leading expertise of the imaging scientists and research infrastructure specialists embedded in the WA NIF Node, who are critical to NIF’s operations, and central to maintaining Australia’s world-leading position in applying imaging technologies.”

“This team is essential to making the cutting-edge imaging capabilities accessible to Australian medical researchers, materials and agriculture scientists to enable them to solve challenges across research and industry,” Professor Goscinski said.

Based at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, the project is led by The University of Western (UWA) Australia and the Western Australian Health Translation Network.

UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Amit Chakma said the facility would attract world-class researchers keen to advance healthcare, as well as reduce the barriers to cutting-edge treatments for patients.

“The scanners will cover a broad scope of diseases and treatment needs from basic science through to clinical trials – and will be available to all WA researchers,” Professor Chakma said.

Among key projects to benefit from the human MRI is a study led by Former Australian of the Year, Professor Fiona Wood and Associate Professor Mark Fear to compare the brains of children who have had a burn injury to those of the same age who have not had a burn. This follows earlier studies that found children who had burn injuries were more likely to be admitted to hospital for mental health treatment.

An Alzheimer’s disease study, led by Curtin University’s Professor John Mamo, will use both the PET-CT and MRI to investigate the impact of the cholesterol-lowering drug Probucol on cognitive function.

NIF has contributed $4.42m to the new WA facility through the Australian Government Department of Education’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). This investment includes new equipment for the manufacture of radiopharmaceuticals to be housed in the new cyclotron laboratories at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

NIF is a $300m portfolio of open-access imaging capabilities including equipment, expertise, tools, data and analysis available nationally across 14 nodes, which have received investment from NCRIS, state governments, and its network of university, medical research institute and government science agency partners.

Other major partners in the WA NIF Node are the WA Departments of Health and Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation and the WA Future Health Research and Innovation Fund. Lotterywest is the major supporter, with additional support from Stan Perron Charitable Foundation, Cancer Council WA, Perron Institute, The Ian Potter Foundation, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital’s Department of Radiation Oncology and Curtin, Murdoch and Edith Cowan universities.

In addition, the WA NIF Node has partnered with the Perth Radiological Clinic to provide the valuable clinical expertise of MRI radiographers and nuclear medicine technologists to support the facility.

The WA NIF Node, its world-class scientists and access to these world-leading imaging technologies will play an important role in supporting the next generation of treatments to keep Australians healthy.

Read the University of Western Australia media release here.

Read Minister Dawson’s media statement here.


Research-clinical partnership delivers world-leading high-power MRI to support clinical trials and new medical products

[Image: South Australia’s Acting Premier and Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Susan Close MP joined Jones Radiology CEO Prof Susan O’Neill to cut the ribbon on the new MRI]

South Australia’s Acting Premier and Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Susan Close MP joined SAHMRI Executive Director Prof Steve Wesselingh, Siemens Healthineers Managing Director, Michael Shaw and Jones Radiology CEO Prof Susan O’Neill to officially open one of the world’s first MAGNETOM Cima.X magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners at National Imaging Facility’s (NIF) SAHMRI Node in Adelaide today. 

The new scanner is a co-investment between NIF ($1m) through the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), SAHMRI, Jones Radiology, Siemens Healthineers and the South Australian Government ($1m).  

[Image: SAHMRI Executive Director Prof Steve Wesselingh with South Australia’s Acting Premier and Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Susan Close MP]

The Cima.X will be based at SAHMRI’s Clinical Research Imaging Centre (CRIC) which delivers open access state-of-the-art imaging services for clinical and research scanning.  

CRIC Director and NIF Node Director, Dr Andrew Dwyer said the Cima.X has the potential to revolutionise MRI for both purposes. 

“The clinical benefits of this technology will be initially realised for degenerative brain diseases, traumatic brain injury, and supporting precision treatment of brain tumours,” Dr Dwyer said. 

“It’s on the research front though, where we have the greatest potential for breakthroughs. Combining the gradient performance of the Cima.X, frontiers in machine learning and the skills of the team at CRIC will enable our researchers to investigate the body and its processes with a clarity they couldn’t have dreamed about previously.” 

[Image: NIF SAHMRI Node Director Dr Andrew Dwyer, Senior Scientist and National Coordinator for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Dr Shawna Farquharson, and Chief Technologist and NIF Fellow Angela Walls]

NIF CEO, Prof Wojtek Goscinski said SAHMRI’s Cima.X, as one of the first of its kind globally, will support the translation of cutting-edge scientific discoveries into new medical products, a key priority of the Australian Government’s National Research Infrastructure Roadmap.  

“Australia is a world leader in applying and translating MRI technology, and the unique capabilities of the Cima.X within SAHMRI’s world-class clinical context will be a valuable component of NIF’s national network, underpinning Australia’s ability to translate research, provide better clinical decision-making and better health,” Prof Goscinski said.  

“The Cima.X is designed to study the connections in the human brain, which is critical to understanding challenging neurological disorders, such as stroke and acute brain injury, and will be an important tool for investigator and industry led clinical trials for the development of new medical products to treat these conditions.”  

Managing Director at Siemens Healthineers, Michael Shaw said the Cima.X is the strongest whole-body, clinically-approved 3T MRI ever manufactured.  

“The system is more than twice as powerful as anything used in a clinical setting previously thanks to the novel Gemini Gradients,” Mr Shaw said. 

“This will ultimately provide clinicians and researchers alike with deeper insights into the human body. In addition, the Cima.X leverages our next generation of deep learning image reconstruction technology for faster image acquisition and signal rich super resolution images. Our Open Reconstruction Research Platform is designed to connect research partners and promote seamless national and international research collaborations.” 

Read SAHMRI’s media release here. 

NIF – ACRF collaboration launches Australian-first facility for new cancer therapies

Queensland’s Assistant Minister for Health and Regional Health Infrastructure, the Hon Brittany Lauga MP joined the University of Queensland’s Vice-Chancellor and President Prof Deborah Terry AO and Chair of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF), Mr Tom Dery AO to officially open the ACRF Facility for Targeted Radiometals in Cancer (AFTRiC) at the Centre for Advanced Imaging (CAI) in Brisbane today.

[NIF Fellow Dr Gary Cowin demonstrating the capabilities of the new Facility, with Assistant Minister for Health and Regional Health Infrastructure, the Hon Brittany Lauga MP]

AFTRiC will be Australia’s first facility for the discovery, development and clinical application of novel alpha particle-based cancer therapeutics, as well as other radiometal and molecular imaging agents.

The Facility has been co-funded by the National Imaging Facility (NIF) ($1.2m) in partnership with the ACRF ($1.2m), the Ian Potter Foundation ($180k) and the University of Queensland.

[Assistant Minister for Health and Regional Health Infrastructure, the Hon Brittany Lauga MP with UQ NIF Node Director Prof Markus Barth]

AFTRiC will support the advancement of cancer theranostics (combined therapy and diagnostics in imaging), using cancer-seeking molecules attached to alpha particles to deposit high-energy radiation to cancer cells, without impacting healthy tissue.

NIF Chief Executive Officer, Prof Wojtek Goscinski said it was a privilege to partner with the University of Queensland, the ACRF and the Ian Potter Foundation to boost Australia’s open-access alpha particle research capabilities.

“Our investment in AFTRiC aligns with NIF’s commitment to grow our capability to help researchers and industry use alpha particles to produce and test new-generation theranostics,” Prof Goscinski said.

“The development of new theranostics through AFTRiC will support this fast-growing area of significant healthcare innovation, allowing doctors to ‘see what they treat’ by combining diagnosis and treatment to improve cancer therapy and outcomes.”

CAI Deputy Director (Research) Prof Kris Thurecht said several pieces of AFTRiC equipment had already been installed at CAI and used to evaluate first-in-class radiopharmaceuticals, building a strong case for the development and clinical translation of new cancer drugs.

“Radiopharmaceuticals and theranostics have been identified by all levels of government as a next-generation research priority, and AFTRiC firmly positions us as one of the country’s leading capabilities in this space,” Prof Thurecht said.

[CAI Deputy Director (Research) Prof Kris Thurecht lead a tour of the new Facility]

“We will be one of the few places in the country that can produce these specialised radiopharmaceuticals and, in collaboration with our industry partners, we will evaluate and hopefully develop clinical grade product for clinical trials.”

AFTRiC is one of two NIF investments underpinning a national capability for targeted alpha particle therapeutics. The other is establishing a new facility at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights campus to enable the development and translation of alpha-emitting radiopharmaceuticals, having access to radioisotopes produced in the OPAL research reactor.

Registrations open: National Imaging Facility Scientific Symposium 2023

National Imaging Facility Scientific Symposium, Melbourne

Presented in partnership with the Victorian Biomedical Imaging Capability (VBIC)
Friday 11 August 2023
8:30am – 6:00pm
Ian Potter Auditorium, Kenneth Myer Building, University of Melbourne and online via Zoom

Join us to hear from experts at the leading edge of imaging application across four key sessions:

Addressing Australia’s Burden of Disease will showcase large-scale impactful research addressing major disease challenges. The panel will share their ground-breaking insights and explore transformative strategies that are shaping the future of healthcare.

Toward Precision Medicine brings together leading experts to discuss how cutting-edge techniques are moving the field of personalised diagnosis and targeted therapies. The session showcases the new ways imaging is being applied, from breakthroughs in molecular imaging and radiopharmaceuticals, to revolutionising patient outcomes.

Frontiers of Imaging focuses on new imaging technologies and applications spanning from state-of-the-art developments in plant and materials imaging, and cutting-edge technologies like AI and machine learning, to the development of novel modalities to improve medical diagnosis and treatment.

The NIF Community Highlights session will showcase the work of the researchers, collaborators, users, and facility staff within our NIF community, focusing on capability and research highlights from the past year.

For more information and to register, visit the National Imaging Facility Eventbrite page.

NIF Scientific Symposium Planning Committee:
NIF Central: Shawna Farquharson, Alex Burton, Bec Dickson, Sarah Flaim, Wojtek Goscinski, Monique Mahoney, Sara Motamen
The Florey: David Abbott
La Trobe University – Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute:  Ingrid Burvenich
Monash University: Michael De Veer
SAHMRI: Angela Walls
University of Melbourne: Brad Moffatt, Rob Williams
University of Western Australia: Joseph Ioppolo, Paul Parizel, Diana Patalwala
VBIC lead: Leigh Johnston
Western Sydney University:
Bill Price

The NIF Scientific Symposium is part of the NIF Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM), which will be held from Wednesday 9 – Friday 11 August 2023. Click here for more information about the NIF ASM.

Victorian collaboration raises over $50m investment in critical imaging capabilities

[Image: La Trobe University – Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute NIF Fellow, Dr Ingrid Burvenich with Minister Tierney]

The Victorian Government has invested $14.83m in National Imaging Facility’s (NIF) research infrastructure in Victoria, in partnership with the Victorian Biomedical Imaging Capability (VBIC), equating to a boost of just over $50m through collaborative co-investment. 

[Image: Victorian Minister for Higher Education, the Hon Gayle Tierney MP]

Victorian Minister for Higher Education, the Hon Gayle Tierney MP visited the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute on Tuesday, to highlight the impact of the collaboration and the State Government’s investment of through the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund (VHESIF) initiative.  

“Collaborative projects such as this demonstrate how our government is supporting higher education and industry to become international leaders in their field,” Minister Tierney said.

[Image: Victorian Minister for Higher Education, the Hon Gayle Tierney MP toured the facilities at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute and the Austin hospital]

The funding is supporting the upgrade and expansion of imaging capabilities across NIF’s research facilities in Victoria, including The Florey, La Trobe University and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, Monash University, Swinburne University of Technology, and University of Melbourne in partnership with Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Austin Hospital.  

Critical medical research in areas of national priority such as dementia cancer and epilepsy, as well as agriculture research will be enabled by the co-investment, which includes $26.7m from NIF through the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) funding scheme. 

Infrastructure funded under the collaboration includes human magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) capabilities at Swinburne University of Technology and The Florey, where state-of-the-art high-intensity focused ultrasound will support the development of new treatments for essential tremor and tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease. 

In addition to this, the University of Melbourne upgraded their ultra-high-field 7T MRI (one of only two in Australia), and acquired a new human PET-CT. 

Preclinical capabilities including PET/MRI and PET/CT to support important drug discovery and testing have been installed at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute/La Trobe University and Monash University. 

[Image: NIF preclinical capabilities at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute]

A new research cyclotron at Monash (the Australian Precision Radiopharmaceutical Facility APRF) will enable the production of radioisotopes under GMP standards, and enhance Australia’s sovereign capability to produce therapeutics and diagnostics. Complementary to this, radiochemistry hotcell infrastructure upgrades at Monash, the Austin Hospital, and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre will support the design and development of novel cancer treatments.  

[NIF radiochemistry capabilities at the Austin hospital/Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute]

The funding also enables upgrades to the magnetoencephalography (MEG) at Swinburne, one of only two systems in Australia, supporting the study of brain function. 

[Image: NIF MEG at Swinburne University of Technology]

Development of specialised plant imaging capabilities at the University of Melbourne will underpin research into the effect of climate change on crops and soil, and strategies and applications for agricultural improvements to support Australia’s standing as a world leader in food and beverage production. 

NIF Chief Executive Officer, Prof Wojtek Goscinski said the co-contributed investment underpins transformational initiatives in a number of national priority areas including precision medicine, molecular imaging, drug discovery, diagnostics and plant soil imaging. 

“It’s a privilege for NIF to partner with the Victorian Government and VBIC to support Australia’s strategic science and research priorities” Prof Goscinski said. 

“These capabilities will support Australia as a world-leader in applying advanced imaging technology, resulting in better healthcare, better products, and important discoveries.”

Read the Victorian Government’s announcement here. 

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