UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Official unveiling of Neuroimaging Centre

1 June 2012

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A new neuroimaging analysis centre which will radically improve the speed of radiological diagnosis of neurological disease and pioneer research has been officially opened.

The National Brain Appeal committed £1.35 million towards the £1.7 million project which will radically enhance translational research by pooling the resources and expertise of neuroradiologists, physicists, clinical scientists and researchers into one cohesive unit.

The donors’ plaque was unveiled at 8-11 Queen Square by Giles du Boulay, who is the son of pioneering UCLH/UCL neuroradiologist the late Professor George du Boulay, who dedicated years of his life to neuroradiology and fundraising for the NHNN. One of the rooms at the new centre has been named in honour of the Professor.

“George would surely have dreamed of his work leading to the opening of such a new centre of excellence as this…Dreams must be heeded and accepted, for a great many do come true,” his son Giles told guests and donors.

More than 29,000 patients undergo brain scans at the NHNN each year, and the sophisticated scanners – combined with the team’s expertise in interpreting them – will provide more efficient radiological diagnosis enabling more rapid treatment. Overall, the number of patients referred has more than doubled in the last five years following the expansion of its stroke services, the opening of the Brain Tumour Unit and increasing demand across the sector. 

Tarek Yousry, Professor of Neuroradiology, said: “The team will be focusing on neurological conditions such as brain tumours, stroke, neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases. The new facilities will make it possible to produce reports on imaging within 48 hours which will make a huge difference in the care that patients receive; while bringing all these different specialists together in one place will make it possible to speed up the process of turning research discoveries into medical treatments.”

Guests at the official opening were treated to a series of demonstrations highlighting the fascinating scope of the team’s work.

For example, multi dimensional scans can: clearly identify risks  by providing real-time precise and detailed images of surrounding tissue and nerve endings during surgery allowing surgeons to avoid them;  utilise cross sectional views of individual muscles to highlight muscle wastage and nerve disease and accurately quantify any shift in brain tissue during operations to enable safest surgical procedures.

Prof Michael Hanna, Institute Director, opened the event by speaking about the importance of UCL / UCLH partnership initiatives such as the Neuroimaging Analysis Centre.  Professor Tarek Yousry talked about events that led to establishing the Centre.  Senior Lecturer in MRI Physics, Dr David Thomas, outlined the Department’s pre-clinical and translational research.  Consultant Clinical Scientist, Dr John Thornton, finished the presentations by speaking on the Department’s clinical research and how this would lead to better clinical care in the future. Professor John Duncan, Clinical Director, closed the event, acknowledging the support of the National Brain Appeal.

The National Brain Appeal received more than £500,000 in donations to the Appeal from grant-making trusts, individuals and a substantial legacy.  The remaining £700,000 will come from general funds.

George du Boulay CBE was the Professor of Neuroradiology at the Institute of Neurology and Head of the Lysholm Department of Radiology at the NHNN from 1975 until 1984. He played a major role in the clinical and academic life of Queen Square and was actively engaged in research until the mid 90s. He was a long serving and very active Trustee of the National Hospital Development Foundation (later renamed The National Brain Appeal), becoming vice-president of the organisation in 2004.