ImageTech Lab Announcement (l-r): Dr. Ryan D'Arcy, Surrey Councilor Bruce Hayne, UBC professor John Diggle, SFU President Andrew Petter, Minister of State for WED Michelle Rempel, SFU VP Research Joy Johnson, and Key Account Executive for BC at Philips Healthcare Victor Davis

Innovation Boulevard medical imaging lab receives $3.6 million in federal investment

May 19, 2015

A world-class medical imaging lab—designed to further translational brain research and focus on advanced diagnostics and treatment monitoring in neurology, mental health and addictions care—is being established by Simon Fraser University and the City of Surrey, in partnership with Fraser Health.

Western Economic Diversification (WD) is providing $3.6 million in federal investment into Innovation Boulevard’s growing technology test-bed to support ImageTech Lab, considered “one of its crown jewels.” The announcement was made today by the Hon. Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for WD.

The lab, representing many firsts, brings together a partnership between SFU, UBC, Philips Healthcare and CTF MISL to ensure B.C. continues to be globally competitive in advanced brain imaging.

ImageTech is home to a new state-of-the-art 3.0 Tesla whole body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine and an upgraded 275-channel magnetoencephalography (MEG) machine—with the MEG being a long-established, SFU-driven medical technology advance.

“Our longstanding MEG partnership with the Down Syndrome Research Foundation has grown into a much larger opportunity,” says project lead Dr. Ryan D’Arcy, an SFU computing science and engineering science professor. “Now, such tools will enable the region’s top health innovators to bring rapid advances in the treatment for devastating brain disorders and diseases, like brain tumours, epilepsy, dementia, depression and brain injury.

“Combining advanced MRI and MEG offers the best possible window into the brain in action. The Surrey Memorial ImageTech Lab positions B.C. for global leadership. When you include the MEG capability in particular, there is nothing like it in Western Canada.”

One of Canada’s best examples of medical technology innovation success is the CTF MEG spin-off technology from SFU, which are now distributed worldwide through the Vancouver-based company MISL Ltd.

Access to the latest MEG capabilities for debilitating conditions such as epilepsy will “immediately and profoundly impact our region’s children and families,” says Dr. D’Arcy, noting that it will now be possible to realize breakthroughs in treatments for brain cancer, stroke, dementia and other serious brain conditions, across the lifespan.

ImageTech is the latest embedded addition into the Innovation Boulevard network. Others include Surrey Memorial’s NeuroTech Lab, SFU’s Digital Health Hub, the Innovation Centre for Healthy Aging driven by Retirement Concepts, and the recently opened HealthTech Innovation Hub led by Dianne Watts. Future planned growth includes embedded labs for addictions recovery and mental health, and other key priorities that target B.C.’s biggest healthcare challenges.

The investment by Western Economic Diversification is further augmented by a recent $1 million investment from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the $36.6 million investment into AGE-WELL, a Canadian Network of Excellence in healthy aging innovations, co-led by SFU.