Bioscience 3 Welcomes Region’s Only State-of-the-Art Human Research Imaging Center for New CU Venture

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In 2017, the Marcus Foundation generously committed $38 million to the University of Colorado to create a comprehensive traumatic brain injury (TBI) institute to transform health care for military veterans throughout Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region. Dr. James Kelly was instrumental in procuring the gift and is the Executive Director of the new Marcus Institute for Brain Health. Dr. Kelly previously led the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for seven years, treating more than 1,300 active-duty servicemen and women suffering from TBI and psychological conditions.

Of the $38 million gift, $7 million was given to support the purchase and installation of a state-of-the-art PET/MR scanner to care for TBI patients. With the $7 million serving as a foundation, a grand vision was launched to leverage the gift to build something bigger–a world class research imaging facility.

Over three years, a collaboration was forged between the CU School of Medicine, the Marcus Foundation, GE Medical, PharmaLogic, and UC Health to locate and build the imaging facility. The collaborative turned to the Fitzsimons Innovation Community (FIC) to accommodate their unique needs. Dr. Gerald Dodd III, Professor and Chair of the Department of Radiology at the University of Colorado and Dr. Kelly were able to work directly with FIC during the planning and construction stages of the new Bioscience 3 building in order to accommodate the envisioned facility—now called the Research Imaging Center (RIC). According to Dr. Dodd, “The collective effort to make the RIC a reality was substantial, but well worth it. The RIC will enable cutting-edge research on TBI as well as a host of other diseases and enhance the standing of the Anschutz Medical Campus as a leader at the forefront of medical research.”

The RIC will house three state-of-the-art pieces of imaging equipment, a PET/MR, a PET/CT and either a large bore 7T MRI or a high-end 3T MRI. Additionally, the RIC is attached to a new PET radiopharmacy being built by PharmaLogic. The radiopharmacy will manufacture the research PET radiopharmaceuticals that will be used in the RIC. The co-location of the RIC and the radiopharmacy was a critical requirement as it ensures that the RIC will be able to use all PET radiopharmaceuticals, including those with very short half-lives.

The RIC’s mission is to leverage its state-of-the-art, non-invasive imaging equipment, novel radiopharmaceuticals, and highly-experienced team of specialists to provide insights into neurological conditions—traumatic brain injury, depression and other types of mental illness, as well as non-neurological illnesses such as cancer—operating both as a research entity and providing clinical care.

“Fitzsimons Innovation Community’s partnership with the Research Imaging Center exemplifies our ability to work with new and existing partners in education and industry to customize their facilities and grow with them overtime,” added April Giles, Vice President of Business Development for Fitzsimons Innovation Community.

To understand the implications of its capabilities, Dr. John J. Reilly, Dean of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, shared that a second opportunity at the center is to use some of their unique tools to monitor the response of patients during clinical trials. “Currently, our most notable example is Alzheimer’s disease. We obviously can’t biopsy the brains of people who have or are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. However, the center can provide a non-invasive way to see if new therapies have an impact on various aspects of Alzheimer’s even before they become symptomatic. It’s fascinating,” explained Dr. Reilly.

“I hesitate to say this, but I think that the imaging center is going to be successful and ultimately found to be too small,” foreshadows Dr Kelly. Fortunately, the room for growth within FIC is a unique opportunity in the Denver metro area. It’s going to be awhile before we reach that capacity, but I think that will happen. The best place for us to grow is right here. It’s going to be fun to watch how it all evolves.”

We couldn’t have said it better, Dr. Kelly. For opportunities with FIC, please visit https://fitzsimonsinnovation.com/.