media release

SFU ImageTech Lab opens up “best possible windows” into human brain function

September 18, 2018
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 Contact:
Marianne Meadahl, Communications & Marketing, 778.782.9017; 604.209.5770

Photos: http://at.sfu.ca/wFzvXM

SFU ImageTech Lab opens up “best possible windows” into human brain function 
  
Housed at Surrey Memorial Hospital, new lab promises to bring rapid innovations to medical imaging

A world-class clinical research facility—SFU ImageTech Lab—is being unveiled today by Simon Fraser University and Fraser Health. The SFU lab is the first-of-its-kind in Western Canada and will be a cornerstone in Surrey’s Health Technology District.

The lab provides the critical combination of high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) together with high-density magnetoencephalography (MEG)—uniquely embedded within Surrey Memorial Hospital—an emerging academic health sciences centre.

The lab will advance translational brain and body research and focus on advanced diagnostics and treatment monitoring in neurology and mental health, and many other healthcare areas. The facility—representing many firsts—brings together a partnership between SFU and Fraser Health, to ensure British Columbia continues to be globally competitive in advanced brain and body imaging. 
 
The combination of a high field 3T whole-body MRI with a high-density 275-channel MEG provides state-of-the-art capabilities for “the best possible windows” into brain function. These sophisticated medical imaging tools will enable the region’s top health innovators to bring rapid advances in the treatment of devastating brain disorders and diseases, brain injury, brain tumours, epilepsy, autism, Down Syndrome, aging and dementia, depression, addictions, and mood disorders.
 
The lab is made possible with initial funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and B.C. Knowledge Development Fund, and from generous contributions from Philips Canada, CTF MEG and a number of other individuals and organizations.

SFU PRESIDENT ANDREW PETTER

“The SFU ImageTech Lab adds to the university’s strengths in health technologies and our growing reputation as a national innovation leader. By fostering research that contributes to healthier communities, it will also help us to advance our mission as Canada’s Engaged University.”   

THE HON. NAVDEEP BAINS, MINISTER OF INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND THE MINISTER RESPONSIBLE FOR WESTERN ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION CANADA

“The grand opening of the SFU ImageTech Lab at Surrey Memorial Hospital marks a significant milestone for the City of Surrey and for Simon Fraser University. These partnerships between researchers, entrepreneurs, and healthcare professionals not only bolster economic activity, but also give the region’s top health experts access to world-class technology and support advancements in healthcare solutions.”
 
ROSEANN O’REILLY RUNTE, PRESIDENT & CEO OF THE CANADA FOUNDATION OF INNOVATION

“Enabling researchers to peer deeply into the intricacies of the brain will advance our understanding of mental health issues and neurological disorders. This facility exemplifies extraordinary collaboration, bringing together all levels of government, business, the hospital, university, and the community in support of extremely important medical research.”
 
DR. RYAN D’ARCY, SFU PROFESSOR, SURREY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL FOUNDATION BC LEADERSHIP CHAIR IN MULTIMODAL TECHNOLOGY FOR HEALTHCARE INNOVATIONS
 
“This lab positions B.C. and Surrey for global leadership in health technology innovation, and investments in these innovations play a critical role in disrupting and improving how healthcare is delivered. Among the many advances it brings in medical imaging, it provides the best possible views to watch our brains in action. 

“When you combine these powerful clinically-embedded technologies with a direct translational focus on individual healthcare impact – that’s something special. However, when we take it up to the “next level” by mobilizing a wide-spanning partnership network across the university, healthcare, community and business sectors— now we have the privilege of leading a truly unique model for a successful Canadian healthtech innovation cluster.”

DR. VICTORIA LEE, VICE-PRESIDENT, POPULATION HEALTH AND CHIEF MEDICAL HEALTH OFFICER FOR FRASER HEALTH
 
“This ground-breaking collaboration with Simon Fraser University has resulted in new research technology for advanced scientific understanding of many debilitating diseases, and their impact on our people’s lives. The technology housed in the SFU ImageTech Lab is cutting-edge. It gives us the power to study, in real-time, how disease processes affect the brain and body. The scientific knowledge generated in the lab can then be used to directly influence the innovation and advancement of health care.”

JOY JOHNSON, SFU’S VICE-PRESIDENT, RESEARCH AND INTERNATIONAL

 “The SFU ImageTech Lab is a testament to the power of collaboration and partnerships, As the first-of-its-kind in Western Canada, the facility helps position Canada for global leadership in health technology innovation.”
 
Backgrounder: advancing SFU research
 
SFU researchers benefitting from the new facility include:
 
• Dr. Ryan D’Arcy, a neuroscientist and entrepreneur whose research focuses on innovations in functional brain imaging and neurotechnologies. His latest breakthroughs involve developing the world’s first brain vital sign framework, the exploration of outer limits in individual recovery from brain injury through neuroplasticity, the implementation of simulation technologies for safe rehearsal of brain and other surgeries to reduce medical errors, and detecting and characterizing functional brain activity in white matter. 

Dr. D’Arcy applies these advances to help evaluate and monitor treatment and recovery of critical brain functions in individuals affected by brain injury, stroke, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumours, autism, multiple sclerosis, and a host of other neurological conditions;

• Dr. Xiaowei Song, a neuroscientist and medical imaging scientist at Fraser Health, whose research focuses on brain imaging advances for aging and dementia. Dr. Song is globally recognized as one of the innovators who developed the Frailty Index, the Brain Atrophy and Lesion Index, and the brain vital sign framework. She is head of the 3T MRI research at the SFU ImageTech Lab and works closely with collaborators across Fraser Health, SFU, and other through BC, Canada, and globally.
 
• Dr. Teresa Cheung, a physicist and medical imaging scientist at Fraser Health. She is also an assistant professor of professional practice in SFU’s School of Engineering Science. Dr. Cheung is head of the 275-Channel MEG research at the SFU ImageTech Lab and conducts a wide array of research studies, including pediatric advances in Down Syndrome, autism, and epilepsy research. Dr. Cheung also has a leadership role in SFU’s Point of Care Health Technologies research team, which actively connects SFU research to industry partnerships through innovation.
 
Some of the leaders from the Point of Care Health Technologies team and their collaborators who are active in the SFU ImageTech Lab:
 
• Dr. Siamak Arzanpour – Professor, assistive and safety technologies 
• Dr. Bruce Bjornson – Neurology, BC Children’s Hospital
• Dr. John Diggle – Neurologist, Surrey Memorial Hospital Neurology
• Dr. Sam Doesburg – Assistant professor, Autism and developmental brain imaging
• Dr. Martin Ester – Professor, computer science and machine learning
• Dr. Faranak Farzan – Assistant professor, addictions and mental health
• Dr. Fin Hodge – Radiologist, Surrey Memorial Hospital Radiology
• Dr. Kirpal Kohli – Medical Physicist, BC Cancer Agency
• Dr. Alex MacKay – Physics, UBC
• Dr. Erin MacMillan – Research Associate, MRI Physics
• Dr. George Medvedev – Neurologist, Fraser Health Neurology
• Dr. Carlo Menon - Professor, rehabilitation and assistive technologies
• Dr. Sylvain Moreno – Assistant professor, digital health and neuroscience
• Dr. Ed Park – Professor, rehabilitation and assistive technologies
• Dr. Stephen Robinovitch – Professor, aging and dementia technologies
• Dr. Carolyn Sparrey - Associate professor, spinal cord injury and simulation
• Dr. Andrew Sixsmith - Professor, technologies in aging and dementia
• Dr. William Su – Radiology, Fraser Health Radiology
• Dr. Vasily Vakorin – Research Associate, Neuroinformatics
 
LEARN MORE:

• MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technology that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to get detailed images of our body. It is widely used in neurology to provide high-resolution structural, functional and chemical images of the brain. It helps advance the ability to diagnose, monitor and guide treatments across a wide range of brain and body conditions.

• MEG: Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a non-invasive brain imaging technology that allows for real-time mapping of brain activity by measuring very small magnetic field fluctuations generated by the brain’s electrical activity. The MEG allows researchers to directly measure brain activity as it happens and track the sources of this activity. It provides unparalleled insight into brain processing and dysfunction and is particularly accessible for children. The MEG can be applied in a clinical setting to study health conditions such as epilepsy, autism, Down Syndrome, traumatic brain injury as well as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and many other neurological and mental health conditions.

• MRI-MEG COMBINED: Used together, the MRI-MEG technologies offer researchers unparalleled possibilities to “watch the brain in action” by visualizing and combining a range of different powerful measure of brain function and structure.

About Simon Fraser University:

As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement. SFU was founded more than 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is Canada’s leading comprehensive research university and is ranked one of the top universities in the world. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 35,000 students, and boasts more than 150,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world. 

About Fraser Health:

Fraser Health provides a wide range of integrated health care services to more than 1.8 million people living in communities stretching from Burnaby to Hope. Our quality health care services range from acute care hospitals to community-based residential, home health, mental health and public health services. As one of Canada's largest health authorities, Fraser Health employs more than 26,000 employees, 2,900 physicians and nearly 6,500 volunteers.

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