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Imaging advances

18 September 2009

A PET clinical scannerA PET clinical scanner

Cardiff is racing into the forefront of imaging technology with the development of the Wales Research and Diagnostic Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Imaging Centre on the Heath Park Campus.

The clinical scanner should be ready early next year, bringing research and patient benefits. Meanwhile the pre-clinical scanner is being commissioned and should be ready for research purposes within weeks.

The pre-clinical scanner will enable cutting-edge research in the medical, biological and life sciences. These will lead to better understanding of biological processes and structures; new clinical, diagnostic and therapeutic strategies; earlier detection of disease; and, ultimately, more successful results for patients.

At the same time, both the pre-clinical and clinical scanners will need a wide variety of imaging probes to enable scanning of neurological, cardiovascular and tumorous structures, among many others. The challenge will be for Cardiff researchers in the chemical and physical sciences to design and produce new, non-invasive, probe materials for all of these uses.

Professor Peter Edwards of the School of Chemistry, Executive Director of the PET Centre, said: "At Cardiff, we are seeking to create a collaborative environment where core physical sciences can engage and innovate with the life sciences for the overall purpose of enhancing biological knowledge and developing new clinical practices. We aim to build the facility to produce a wide range of tracer materials which will put us at the cutting edge of pre-clinical and clinical research activity."

The pre-clinical scanner will offer three different types of imaging: Positron Emission Tomography; Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography; and X-Ray Computer Tomography. Its presence will be a boost to a number of new Cardiff research centres, including the Arthritis Research Campaign Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre, the Medical Research Council Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics and the Severnside Alliance for Translational Research (SARTRE) project with Bristol University. (link hyper links in text)

The PET team have already taken a "roadshow" around the University to promote the facilities and opportunities amongst the research community. A number of projects are already lined up for when the pre-clinical scanner goes operational. Collaborations with research groups and centres across Wales and more broadly are also being developed.

The PET project is led by the University in partnership with Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, funded with by a £16.5M investment from the Welsh Assembly Government. It will be housed in a purpose-built building on the Heath site and it is anticipated that the clinical scanner will available for clinical research in the first part of next year. This will be a state-of-the-art research facility and also offer NHS patients scanning facilities not currently available in Wales. The development is part of the University’s Campus Horizons strategy to make substantial capital commitments to enhancing all parts of its estate.

Professor Edwards added: "This is a very exciting development which will draw together experts from a range of backgrounds including Physics, Chemistry, Computing Science, Bioscience, Cognitive Psychology and Medical Science. We will establish a powerful research and development network which will be able to compete seriously with the leading existing imaging centres in the UK and abroad."

Academic colleagues can find out more about the PET initiative at or by emailing