Only paediatric MEG scanner in Europe housed at new Aston University research centre

Aston Brain Centre

7th October 2011

A brain scanner specifically for children – one of only three in the world – forms part of pioneering new research facilities at Aston University in Birmingham.

The newly opened Aston Brain Centre (ABC) brings together a unique suite of equipment and facilities for related areas of brain research, from child development to healthy ageing. The Centre specialises in areas including epilepsy, dyslexia, autism, ADHD, sleeping disorders and metabolic disease. The ABC will also provide a referral service for the National Health Service (NHS), providing innovative diagnostic services unavailable within the NHS.

The facility will house:

  • A whole brain paediatric magnetoencephalography (MEG) scanner. This is the only MEG scanner of its kind in Europe and one of only three in the world

  • A new human brain tissue lab with specialist electrophysiology rigs for the study of brain cell function

  • Sleep Research Laboratories providing the first facility for the study of neurological and psychiatric sleep disorders, with particular interest in diagnosis and drug therapies

  • A Dyslexia and Developmental Assessment Unit to provide a range of psychological assessments for dyslexia for both children and adults

  • A Human Brain Tissue Laboratory, run in collaboration with the Birmingham Children’s Hospital and University of Newcastle.

Aston Brain Centre

The new £5m purpose-built Centre was officially opened by Tim Melville-Ross CBE (Friday, 7th October 2011), Chair of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Speaking at the launch, Professor Paul Furlong, Director of the new Aston Brain Centre at Aston University said: “Aston University has a 40-year track record of research leadership in the study of brain development and imaging. Our team of scientists will be working to understand how the brain works in health and disease, using the latest technology to study all aspects of brain function throughout a person’s life from individual brain cells through to the whole brain.”

Professor Julia King, Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, said: “At Aston University we believe that for research to be at its most productive, it must be rooted in patient based experience and knowledge. The Centre is one of the most advanced brain imaging research facilities in the world and it will both enable the delivery of world-class research, and the translation of that research intounparalleled patient-care for the people of Birmingham and beyond.”

The ABC is supported by HEFCE, the Wellcome Trust, Aston University, the Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research and the Lord Dowding Fund for Humane Research. The ABC is committed to the development of humane research techniques for the replacement of animals in neuroscience research.

Kailah Eglington, Chief Executive of the Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research, said: “Our funding has allowed Professor Furlong and the team at Aston University to carry out a whole array of human brain research without using animals in areas including behaviour, epilepsy, pain, hearing, speech and language, drug development for  neurological diseases like depression and Alzheimer’s. The DHT is proud to have contributed to this very successful partnership which has in turn led to the opening of the new Aston Brain Centre.”

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of the Lord Dowding Fund for Humane Research, which sponsors non-animal scientific and medical research added: “The Aston Brain Centre stands right at the cutting edge of neurological research, and we are proud to play our part in helping fund the project. We recently donated £450,000 to the University towards humane research with another £200,000 to follow in the next few years. It is projects like this which show the research potential of groundbreaking, cutting edge  technologies without the use of animals, and set an example for others to follow. We are delighted to continue to provide funds to the Aston Brain Centre, and applaud its foresight in making use of new technologies, and rejecting outdated animal testing methods.”

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ABC opening 1
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ABC opening 2
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For further media information or images please contact Louise Russell, Communications Officer, Aston University on 0121 204 4637 or email

Notes to Editors

  • The Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research (DHT) is the UK’s leading medical research charity funding and promoting the development of techniques and procedures to replace the use of animals in biomedical research and testing.  The DHT was established in 1970 and is supported by patrons such as Dame Judy Dench, Joanna Lumley, Brian May and David Shepherd.  Funded solely by charitable donations, the DHT has awarded grants to over 140 research projects for some of the most advanced and successful human-related techniques in diverse areas of medical research including cancer, Alzheimer’s, asthma, kidney, heart and liver disease and diabetes.

  • The Lord Dowding Fund for Humane Research- Founded in 1973, the name of the Fund is in honour of the Battle of Britain’s Air Chief Marshal the Lord Dowding, a President of the National Anti-Vivisection Society. To date, the Fund has awarded grants approaching £2 million to researchers working on a wide range of fields including microsurgery, toxicity testing of dental fillings, breast and lung cancer, product safety testing, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, cot deaths, cataracts, kidney research, cell culture, computer-aided drug design, biotechnology, brain damage, computer teaching packages which replace the use of animals in education of students at school and university level.

  • To date, the Lord Dowding Fund has awarded grants for £450,000 to the Aston Brain Centre, and will continue to award an additional £50,000 per year until at least 2015.

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