Durham University’s new neuroimaging centre was opened today by Paralympic gold medallist, Lily van den Broecke, at the James Cook University Hospital.

Durham University’s new neuroimaging centre was opened yesterday by Paralympic gold medallist, Lily van den Broecke, at the James Cook University Hospital.

The new centre will provide state of the art biomedical research facilities and the latest technology for patients, furthering the University’s world reputation for research into the human brain.

Clinicians at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough will use the new £1.5 million MRI scanner for diagnostic scanning and for joint research projects between the hospital and university. The scanner will use high-resolution images to help patients with conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis or brain tumours.

Castle student Lily, who guided her rowing crew to gold at the Paralympics this summer, said: “It is thanks to scanners like this that Paralympic gold medallist and fellow crew member David Smith was saved from a fatal tumour.

“Combined with the great staff and patient care, this scanner will become more than just a machine and it is an honour to welcome it to the hospital.”

The scanner, which is more powerful, faster and quieter than the hospital’s current scanner, has already been used by over 1,500 patients.

After the opening ceremony there was be a lecture from Professor Colin Blakemore from the University of Oxford who specialises in vision and development of the brain.

“The new scanner is a marvellous addition to a range of techniques already available at Durham University for research in cognitive neuroscience,” commented Professor Charles Heywood, head of the Durham’s Department of Psychology.

“It allows us to build on our international reputation for such research and to develop substantially fruitful research collaborations between the University and the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.”

Professor Phil Kane, consultant neurosurgeon, said: “The scanning centre will provide a base for further investment into neurosciences research in the north east and is an example of how universities and the health service can work together for the good of the community as well as for their own mutual benefit.”

Durham academics’ current research projects investigate autism, the brain mechanisms of visual perception and how vision can be impaired as a result of brain damage, and the effects of hormones on the brain.