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Archive for Sunday, August 19, 2012

Brain imaging center has ‘major impact’ on Kansas

August 19, 2012

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A decade after the Hoglund Brain Imaging Center opened, it has become a centerpiece for research at Kansas University School of Medicine.

The brain imaging center, complete with three magnetic resonance imaging machines, has allowed researchers to advance scientific knowledge of strokes, Alzheimer’s disease and obesity.

“We are proud of it, and people of the state should be proud that their state has made the investment and it has turned out well,” said William Brooks, director of the center.

Brooks said research done at the center has practical applications. He listed the chemical DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in certain fish and breast milk, as an example. Researchers at the imaging center found evidence that DHA aids childhood cognitive development. Manufacturers now include the chemical in their baby formula.

Besides changing what parents feed infants, the facility has brought in more than $12 million in research earnings, and Brooks said the research has made KUMC more attractive for large government grants.

“There is no doubt that the institute has had a major impact,” he said.

Brooks added that the center also provides a unique research opportunity for medical students and undergraduates.

The ease of doing research at the brain imaging center drew Laura Martin to KU Medical Center to do post-doctoral work.

“It’s really allowed for a lot more opportunities,” she said. “Other places’ scanners are completely booked and have large volumes of work. Here, it’s been fairly easy for researchers to start up on new studies.”

Martin now works for KUMC as an assistant professor and associate director of functional MRI. She said that she gained a large amount of on-the-job experience, and the brain imaging center gave her an important boost in her early career.

A $4 million donation from the Hoglund family helped pay for the center. Brooks said the center was also able to secure millions of dollars in loans from the state, which the research projects have helped pay back.

With KUMC’s recent National Cancer Institute designation, the brain imaging center could be eligible for even more grants.

“We have turned it in a publicly recognized center around the country and the world, and there is more to come,” Brooks said.

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