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Major milestone for new £44m brain imaging centre

30 April 2015

Building of new Cubric block, construction site

A new £44m Cardiff University brain research imaging centre (CUBRIC) that will lead Europe in helping scientists understand the causes of brain conditions  has reached a major milestone in its construction.

A ceremony has taken place celebrating the progress made in creating a new home for world-leading expertise and equipment in brain mapping on the University's innovation campus.

Assembly Minister for Health and Social Services Mark Drakeford joined senior representatives from the University to mark the completion of the structural frame of the building by construction firm BAM.

Research carried out at the centre, which is due to open in Spring 2016, will help scientists understand the causes of brain conditions such as dementia, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis.

Professor Derek Jones, Director of CUBRIC, said: "Seeing the initial vision becoming a physical reality is an amazing privilege, and I'm delighted that we've reached this major milestone in CUBRIC's construction.

"This is the largest research-dedicated neuroimaging centre ever to have been built in the UK and will house a combination of neuroimaging equipment not currently found anywhere else in Europe.

"The talented staff in CUBRIC have been developing the theory of how to make new, more meaningful measurements in the living brain, but have been hamstrung by technology.

"The new CUBRIC assembles the cutting edge technology that now allows us to put these theoretical developments into practice. This really is ushering in a new era for neuroimaging.

"The research that will be done here will potentially have a profound positive impact on the lives of people around the world."

showing brain imaging equipment on patient
Cubric site, builders

The new CUBRIC will be four times larger than the University's existing brain research imaging facilities and will bring staff from different departments together under one roof, leading to increased collaboration and innovation.

Professor Dylan Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Biomedical and Life Sciences, said: "CUBRIC is an excellent example of close collaboration between many individuals both within Cardiff University and the medical and imaging research communities as a whole.

"It will see scientists from a wide range of disciplines working collaboratively to increase our understanding of the brain – this can only bring good for patients.

"We must also recognise the support of the many funding organisations who clearly understand the benefits of building such a world-class facility.

"Cardiff University was recently ranked second in the UK for its research into mind, brain, and neuroscience.

"The new CUBRIC facility will further consolidate our place as one of Europe's leading research institutions in this area of work."

The 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 CUBRIC team has already secured £15.6M in funding and grants to cover the costs of building and cutting edge equipment from organisations including the Wolfson Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council.

Welsh Government also contributed £6m to the development of the University's innovation campus on Maindy Road, including CUBRIC.

screen showing a brain scan with 2 people looking at it
Cubic Ceremony with builders and minister for health

Professor Drakeford said: "This facility will bring together Cardiff University's world-class academics and the very latest technology in this field. I believe it will help to attract more expertise to Wales to undertake cutting-edge research."

The new CUBRIC, designed by the global architecture firm IBI Group, is being built by BAM.

Tim Chell, Construction Director, BAM Construction, said: "This topping out ceremony is a great way of celebrating the excellent teamwork that has enabled this fast track project to complete the structural frame ahead of programme. 

"Following many coordination meetings with the wider team and Cardiff University's specialist key suppliers, we are now progressing well with the internal fit out. 

"Working on this project has enabled BAM to continue our support of the local agenda and we are proud that we have placed 24 out of the 32 sub-contract orders (75%) within a 30-mile radius of the site."