Imaging :: Mayo Clinic to dedicate Opus Building, Imaging Research Center

Mayo Clinic has been a national leader in medical imaging research for decades. Now its expert research team has a new state-of-the-art home. On Sept. 10, 2007, leaders from Mayo Clinic, the Opus Group and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will join in the dedication of the Opus Building, which houses the Mayo Clinic Imaging Research Center.

“The potential for imaging research in this new facility is limited only by our imaginations,” says Glenn Forbes, M.D., CEO of Mayo Clinic Rochester. “This kind of research, that focuses directly on improving patient care, is what we do best at Mayo Clinic. Bringing the newest science to the bedside gives us the opportunity to give our patients the best care there is.”

With 40,000 square feet dedicated to imaging science, Mayo’s new imaging research center will take discovery and development of innovative medical imaging technologies to a new level. The building’s construction was supported with funds from the Mayo benefactor The Opus Group and an NIH capital grant of $2.4 million.

“We have no doubt that this facility, and the Mayo Clinic researchers who will work here, will have a tremendous impact on the field of medical research and patient applications,” says Stephen Riederer, Ph.D., director of the center. “It is unusual for NIH to provide capital building funds, so this is unique recognition by NIH of Mayo’s strong research programs.”

The two-story building is the initial phase of the project and is designed to expand to approximately 300,000 square feet. Phase 1 includes a 1.5 Tesla whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, a 3.0 Tesla whole-body MRI scanner, a new dual-energy computed tomography (CT) scanner and extensive additional space for laboratories and staff offices. The building was designed to accommodate the sensitive equipment as well as the research being conducted within. Construction included vibration control, audible-noise control, radio-frequency shielding and radiation shielding.

Research in the center will include discovery and technical development of new imaging technologies; assessment of both new and existing imaging technologies through clinical research; use of new imaging methods to answer scientific questions across multiple clinical fields; and integration into Mayo Clinic’s patient care of the most innovative and promising imaging techniques available. In this way, the center will foster improvements in clinical imaging and also serve as a resource to multiple departments and divisions across Mayo.

Specific imaging research projects will seek new methods for high-resolution MRI to show natural movement of body structures, such as a beating heart. There also will be investigations into new techniques of ultrafast MR imaging and methods for noninvasive mapping of the vascular system, such as the carotid and coronary arteries. Additional studies will focus on high-detail imaging of the brain and will be used to study Alzheimer’s disease. CT imaging research will focus on ways to measure blood perfusion throughout the heart wall. To date, studies of the basic physics of motion effects have led to the development of imaging techniques that are highly suited for examining structures in motion. Mayo Clinic researchers plan to use the imaging center to create the next generation of these techniques and technologies.

“This is truly an exciting time in medicine,” says Richard Ehman, M.D., director of the Cancer Imaging Research Program. “Advanced imaging technologies are providing unique windows to the human body, showing molecular, cellular and organ function at a level of detail that would have been unthinkable only a few decades ago. Ongoing research in imaging science is a critical part of the national strategy to better understand, treat and prevent disease.”

A recent example is magnetic resonance elastography (MRE), a technology invented at Mayo that combines sound waves and MRI to provide images that have unique potential for aiding in diagnosing diseases of the brain and body, including cancer.

Participating in the dedication will be Roderic Pettigrew, Ph.D, M.D., director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of NIH, and executives from The Opus Group.

“We know that the innovative researchers who work in this building will move medical research forward,” says Mark Rauenhorst, chairman and CEO of Opus Corporation. “Having the Opus name on this building is especially humbling as we think of our long-term association with Mayo Clinic and the medical advancements that are sure to happen by the terrific men and women who work here.”

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