Professor David J. Lomas

Imaging is a multidisciplinary research theme that covers activities involving the use and development of imaging techniques in preclinical and clinical medicine. These processes create images of the human body for clinical purposes and medical science.

There has been a notable shift from open surgery towards less invasive procedures and imaging is often key to their success. Non-invasive or minimally invasive techniques are more convenient for patients and reduce the time and cost of treatment and recovery. Nowadays many will people have their diagnosis made and treatment performed in radiology departments, particularly those with cardiac and neurological disease as well as many cancers.

Cambridge is fortunate to have excellent cross-sectional imaging facilities with research access to four 1.5T and several 3T MRI systems, four multi detector (16, 64 and 128 multi-detector) and dual source and dual energy CT, more than eight colour flow Doppler US systems, several gamma cameras and most recently PET-CT. The NHS and Academic Imaging departments are closely integrated and have experienced faculty who have both technique and body system expertise, many nationally and internationally recognised. The imaging theme also benefits from specialist imaging physicists both University and NHS employed who support the development of new image acquisition technologies and develop and validate new analysis methods.

The Cambridge BRC Imaging theme is developing novel imaging techniques, and related clinical applications, many of which are subsequently used in collaborative research with other BRC themes to enable their scientific endeavours.

This activity can be summarised as a matrix with imaging research extending vertically from preclinical research, novel agents and technology development through experimental proof of concept studies to clinical impact trials in larger populations. Research studies in each of these development areas are spread horizontally across the BRC themes.

The new NIHR funded PET-CT Unit has provided a step change particularly facilitating experimental therapeutic trials in oncology and other themes. In 2010 there were five trials planned, and this year there are 26 in process including the oncology, neuroscience, cardiovascular and metabolism themes. Radiochemistry support for novel ligands remains challenging in the current financial and regulatory climate but increasingly studies with non-FDG ligands are being performed.

With an expanding inventory of state-of-the-art imaging facilities, a world class team of researchers, and support from government, industry and the private sector, the BRC Imaging theme is leading the way to new advances and applications in its field.

Professor David J. Lomas
May 2011