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Expert to Drive Imaging Technology for Better Health Outcomes

The University of Queensland has recruited a world expert in imaging to establish a centre that will use the latest scanning technology to work on cures for some of the most debilitating human diseases.

Professor David Reutens, who started at UQ in September, will establish the Centre for Advanced Imaging (CAI) to progress treatments for diseases such as stroke, dementia, heart disease and cancer.

Professor Reutens said the centre would advance UQ's already strong reputation in imaging research and its national leadership role.

The Centre would build on significant investments by the University and the State and Federal governments in imaging technology, investments that would see the first combined magnetic resonance imaging-positron emission tomography (MRI-PET) scanner to be installed in Australia, he said.

This month, UQ announced the opening of the headquarters of the multi-state National Imaging Facility, which specialises in animal imaging.

Professor Reutens leads a consortium of Australian researchers now using these imaging instruments, some of the most powerful in the world, to map the brain, providing information crucial to researchers globally.

New facilities at the centre, such as the PET scanner, will also allow researchers to study some of the basic molecular building blocks of the human body.

“The centre will draw together UQ's expertise in fields as diverse as engineering, chemistry, physics, computer science, biology and medicine,” Professor Reutens said.

“CAI is an important step in creating an integrated progression of research and imaging from the laboratory bench, through animal models and finally into a clinical setting.

“This is unprecedented in Australia and really should reap dividends in discovering new approaches to curing major diseases and in fast-tracking the discovery of new drugs.

Professor Reutens said UQ's strong links with leading international research institutes would be boosted by a new high speed digital data network and "visualization wall".

The visualisation wall is a bank of LCD screens combined with a high-speed optical fibre link that allows researchers around the world to share large volumes of imaging data in real time, linking Australia with discoveries being made globally.

Minister for Regional Development and Industry Desley Boyle welcomed the news and said it further cemented Queensland's reputation as the Smart State.

"Our Government has invested billions of dollars into the knowledge economy and especially on infrastructure, but our focus has moved from bricks to brains – attracting Professor Reutens confirms that Queensland is the place to be for brilliant minds," Ms Boyle said.

"The research that will be conducted at the CAI also links to the goals of Towards Q2, the Queensland Government's blueprint for the next 10 years. Health is a key component of our vision – we want to make Queenslanders Australia's healthiest people."

Professor Reutens was attracted from Monash University, where he was the Professor of Neuroscience and headed Monash's Neurology department.

He has held faculty positions at the University of Melbourne and Canada's McGill University.

What attracted him to Queensland, he said, was the potential to bring together multiple disciplines in a new collaborative model, and UQ's and the Queensland government's pro-active approach to supporting cutting-edge research.

The Centre for Advanced Imaging is planned to open later this year.

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