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Sunnybrook Research Institute celebrates milestone in imaging research

October 25, 2011

By Eleni Kanavas

Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI) officially opened its new biomarker imaging research laboratory on June 28, 2011. The facility is a core component of SRI's Centre for Research in Image-Guided Therapeutics (CeRIGT), scheduled for completion at the end of this year. The launch of this facility marks an important milestone in CeRIGT's development.

"Scientists at SRI are already renowned in the research pathology field, and the biomarker imaging research lab will enable them to cement that reputation and advance their innovative work in a collaborative environment between scientists and clinicians," said Dr. Michael Julius, vice-president of research at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and SRI.

The lab will allow research teams to use 3-D histopathology techniques to advance their work in many clinical areas, including cancer, and diseases of the brain and cardiovascular system. It will bring together scientists and clinicians with expertise in anatomic and molecular pathology; quantitative imaging; surgical, medical and radiation oncology; and probe development.

Dr. Martin Yaffe, a senior scientist in physical sciences at SRI, heads the biomarker imaging research lab. His research focuses on cancer imaging, including the creation and improvement of imaging techniques for better detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Yaffe is also a professor in the departments of medical biophysics and medical imaging at the University of Toronto.

"This facility will help us develop imaging methods that characterize disease at the molecular level," said Yaffe. "These new methods will help clinicians detect and diagnose disease earlier, and more accurately. These techniques will also guide the choice of therapy and its delivery, and give us critical information about how a tumour is responding to a therapy early on, so we can make adjustments if needed."

Dr. Graham Wright, director of the Schulich Heart Research Program at SRI, spoke about CeRIGT and the fundamental role the biomarker imaging research lab will have within the centre.

Dr. Greg Czarnota, director of the Odette Cancer Research Program at SRI, discussed the clinical relevance of the biomarker imaging research lab and emphasized the importance of researchers and clinicians working together.

Wrapping up, Julius thanked everyone for attending, and jokingly wished Yaffe a "happy birthday." Guests then enjoyed a cake reception, and Yaffe and members of his lab led them on a tour of the 5,000 square-foot facility.

The Centre for Research in Image-Guided Therapeutics is the result of a successful application to the Canada Foundation for Innovation's Research Hospital Fund in 2007. Sunnybrook Research Institute received $57 million in funding to build CeRIGT, and $17.2 million toward the cost of operating the infrastructure, for a total award of $74 million.

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A milestone in imaging research

A researcher in the biomarker lab shows off the lab's technology

A milestone in imaging research

Dr. Yaffe and Dr. Julius celebrate the event with a cake

Sandra BlackA milestone in imaging research

Dr. Sandra Black examines a scan with a colleague

A group checks out the lab's scanning technologyA milestone in imaging research

Visitors check out the lab's scanning technology