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Finding a drop in the ocean


6 December 2011

A cyclotron chemist. The cyclotron produces isotopes for molecular imaging that enable researchers to see inside the human body.
A cyclotron chemist. The cyclotron produces isotopes for molecular imaging that enable researchers to see inside the human body.

Relief for people living with neurological disorders, mental illness and even cancers may be close at hand thanks to Australia's first cyclotron dedicated to biomedical research.

The NSW Governor, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC, VCO will officially open the $25 million National Imaging Facility (NIF) Research Cyclotron on Tuesday 6 December.

Housed at a newly refurbished facility operated by ANSTO, the cyclotron produces isotopes for molecular imaging that will be used by researchers based at the Brain and Mind Research Institute to see inside the body.

The cyclotron will be connected with Australia's most advanced radio-labelling and preclinical imaging facility which will develop and study molecular probes as they move throughout the body.

Professor Steve Meikle at the Brain and Mind Research Institute said scientists can use these probes to measure labelled molecules and proteins in the body with staggering sensitivity.

"These probes can be measured at concentrations as low as a glass of wine diluted in Sydney Harbour," Professor Steve Meikle said.

The new facility is equipped with multi-modality preclinical and clinical scanners that use the molecular probes to measure specific biological functions related to disease. A high performance computing platform provides advanced imaging analysis and modelling capabilities.

A joint initiative of the University of Sydney and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), the NIF Research Cyclotron and imaging facility will be accessible to scientists and researchers across Australia.

It will also be an international standard training facility for highly skilled imaging specialists, engineers, physicists and chemists.

ANSTO's CEO, Dr Adi Paterson, welcomed the partnership which will deliver better research for the benefit of the whole community.

"This is a major foray into preventative health and reshaping ideas about disease. Here we will study the functions that preserve health in order to prevent the damages caused by disease."

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Dr Michael Spence, said the opening of the cyclotron establishes Sydney as a key destination for world class neuroscience research.

"We are delighted to be collaborating with ANSTO for the benefit of scientific research. The cyclotron and imaging facilities will enable scientists to gain valuable insights into complex interactions between genetics, biochemical activity and behaviour.


Event details

What: Opening of the National Imaging Facility (NIF) Research Cyclotron

When: 2.15 to 4.15pm, Tuesday 6 December

Where: National Imaging Facility (NIF) Research Cyclotron, 75-81 Missenden Road,
Camperdown (entrance at boom gate between Grose Street and Lucas Street)


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Victoria Hollick (Tues, Fri), 0401 711 361, 02 9351 2579, victoria.hollick@sydney.edu.au