Arrival of MRI signals final stages of work on Lewis science building

EUGENE, Ore. — Workers installed a new Siemens MAGNETOM Skyra 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner inside the soon-to-be-opened Robert and Beverly Lewis Integrative Science Building on Monday. The instrument will be the centerpiece of the Robert and Beverly Lewis Center for NeuroImaging (LCNI).

The new MRI, a 12,716-pound instrument, was craned in from a flatbed truck after workers removed an exterior wall from the Lewis Building. The new, whole-body magnet will allow the UO to support a broader range of research. The scanner will be primarily used for neuroscience research after the Lewis Building opens officially on Oct. 26, 2012.

The MRI cost an estimated $2.7 million, which was funded in part through a federal grant from the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC). Funding was directed to TATRC by the Oregon Congressional Delegation to support neuroscience research at UO. Support also came from the M.J. Murdock Trust and the James R Kuse Family Foundation – the remainder was provided through institutional support via the research office. The cost of the scanner includes installation and calibration from Siemens.

The machine is primarily for research use, not clinical. The primary users will be cognitive psychology researchers, followed by an increasing number of researchers in human physiology. Researchers from other departments (economics, education, geography) will also use the machine. In keeping with the "integrative" nature of the building, the MRI will be open to researchers from across the spectrum, including undergraduate and graduate students.

The new MRI replaces a head-only scanner that was purchased in 2002 with funds from the Oregon Congressional Delegation. The new magnet will be used to scan subjects ranging from infants to teens to returning veterans to seniors. The facility will be used for an array of research topics, including but not limited to developing rehabilitative interventions for victims of traumatic brain injuries, examining the ramifications of childhood abuse on proper brain development and discovering how the brain learns and holds memories. Because the new instrument performs whole body scans, the facility will be in greater demand for a broader set of research studies, including those from Human Physiology.

The UO has long offered, for a fee, use of the Lewis Center for NeuroImaging to those outside the university. The University will continue to provide services to our local health providers, including the contracted use of the new MRI. The new scanner, which is FDA approved, will allow more detailed scanning than can typically be done in local clinics. The large bore MRI (70 cm.) is one of the largest scanners in the region. It accommodates larger subjects and prevents anxiety, resulting in better patient outcomes. The University also expects to increase the number of users from outside universities and research institutes.

About the Robert and Beverly Lewis Integrative Science Building

Opened in October 2012, the Robert and Beverly Lewis Integrative Science Building is home to strategic research clusters centered around interdisciplinary and integrative research missions that are not defined by departmental boundaries. Part of the University of Oregon’s Lorry I. Lokey Science Complex, the building brings researchers together from across the spectrum to tackle society’s grand challenges, from cellular processes to improving communities.