New flagship imaging centre

28 October 2014

Construction is underway on a state-of-the-art research centre at Cardiff University, set to become one of Europe's top facilities for brain imaging.

The new £44M Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC) will co-locate world-leading expertise in brain mapping with the very latest in brain imaging and brain stimulation.

 

The centre will play a pivotal role in the global endeavour to better understand the causes of neurological conditions such as dementia, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis, so as to yield vital clues for the development of better treatments.

The cost of the building and cutting edge equipment includes some £22M in funding and grants awarded to CUBRIC researchers from organisations including the Wolfson Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the EPSRC, the Medical Research Council, and Welsh Government with more announcements expected in the coming months.

Performing a ground-breaking ceremony to signify the start of the project Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, expressed her delight at seeing the construction work commence.

"Cardiff University is home to some of the world's leading experts in brain mapping, neuroscience, clinical research and genetics, and is widely recognised for its research excellence in this area. The new facility will be world class and it's incredibly exciting to think about the new research that will be done to enhance our understanding of the brain. 

"Our original CUBRIC building, which opened in 2006, has already out grown itself and this new facility will help us meet the growing demand and keep pace with new technology in this vital area of research."

CUBRIC is part of the University's ambitious multi-million pound research and innovation capital development plan, which will provide the facilities needed to foster engagement with business, government, the voluntary sector and civic society in all arenas including the life sciences, engineering and manufacturing, and the creative and digital economies. 

Once completed, the new CUBRIC will be four times larger than the University's existing facilities, meaning staff from different departments will benefit from being housed under one roof, allowing for increased collaboration and innovation.

Professor Derek Jones, Director of CUBRIC, said: "CUBRIC will house a combination of neuroimaging equipment that will be truly unique within Europe.  In addition to magnetoencephalography (MEG), and brain stimulation equipment, the new CUBRIC will house a unique combination of four MRI scanners. 

"One of these, a 7T system, more than twice the strength of standard research scanners, will give us unprecedented ability to look in much higher resolution at brain chemistry, structure and function. 

"This combination of equipment and expertise will allow us to map the brain over different spatial scales, characterising brain chemistry, electrophysiology, blood flow, structure and function. It will also allow us to explore how these measurements relate to each other - how different brain systems work in concert to produce differences in brain function in the healthy brain, and abnormal brain function in a range of developmental, neurological and psychiatric disorders.

"In turn, this will help us to understand not only the causes of disorders such as dementia, schizophrenia, Huntington's disease and multiple sclerosis, but gives us important clues about how to develop more effective treatments to improve the lives of patients with these disorders.

"The plans for the new centre are already attracting huge interest from across the UK and Europe, with grant submissions filed, and we very much look forward to expanding our pool of national and international collaborators."

The CUBRIC project was developed from an initial feasibility study by IBI Group and was submitted for planning approval in November 2013. The design will employ similar energy efficient features as the Hadyn Ellis Building, which achieved a BREEAM Higher Education Award Wales for sustainable design.

"IBI Group designed one of the first MEG facilities in the UK at University of Oxford," said Richard Golledge, Architect and Associate Studio Director at IBI Group. 

"The practice has applied this knowledge and data from the '4 labs 4 cities' research by its R&D team IBI THiNK, to benchmark the CUBRIC building design against other leading international examples of science facilities," he added.

The main contractor for the project is BAM who recently completed the iconic Hadyn Ellis building adjacent to CUBRIC.

Tim Chell, Construction Director of Bam said: "We are obviously delighted to be appointed as main contractor for the CUBRIC Project. This Project integrates some very advanced technologies for research into the scheme, the established collaborative working between BAM and the Cardiff University team will be a real asset to this important and unique project."

Work on the new CUBRIC facility will be completed towards the end of 2015.