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Archive for Saturday, August 16, 2003

Faculty designed to attract researchers

August 16, 2003

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— With the bulk of construction complete and the official building dedication ceremony over, it's time to get down to the real work at the Hoglund Brain Imaging Center.

"We're settled in, but there's plenty more to do," said Dr. William Brooks, the center's director.

The new $10.5 million center at the Kansas University Medical Center has $8.8 million in equipment that will help researchers understand strokes, trauma, multiple sclerosis and other brain abnormalities.

The building was dedicated in March. Among those attending were Forrest and Sally Hoglund, the alumni from Dallas who donated $4 million to the project. Forrest Hoglund is a retired energy executive who serves as chairman of the KU Endowment Association's $500 million "KU First: Invest In Excellence" campaign.

Forrest Hoglund said the gift was designed to attract top-notch researchers to KU.

"The cutting-edge, state-of-the-art tools are what draws the people," he said.

Those tools include a high-powered magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device, Kansas' only magnetoencephalography (MEG) machine and an MRI system designed to test animals.

MRIs measure chemistry in the brain. MEGs measure electrical impulses. Together, they paint a picture of how the brain works, both under normal and abnormal conditions.

Brooks said the new equipment would allow KU researchers in a variety of areas to embark on new projects, many of them federally funded. Researchers from other institutions also will use the machines.

"It was a huge gap of equipment and capability for KU and the (Kansas City) research community at large," he said. "It's an environment that's set up for research. If you're in a radiology department and they need to test a patient, our researchers get bumped."

Brooks said many KU researchers were now applying for grants based on the Hoglund Center's capabilities. That means the real effects of the center on research may take a few years to see.

"We'll be expanding," he said. "It's going to be a steady development, I think, over the next year or two. It takes awhile for people to realize we're here and develop protocols for people to build their research on. That's going to be a growing process."

Sharon Lynch, director of the multiple sclerosis clinic at the KU School of Medicine, was among the researchers who planned to use the Hoglund Center. She said the equipment also would be helpful for clinical trials KU conducts for drug companies.

"All of it can be really useful in research on MS," she said. "We have a huge number of different diseases that can be studied more effectively using these machines. It's a good addition to KU. It adds dimension to our research we didn't have before."

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