A brain scanner specifically for children – one of only three in the world – forms part of pioneering new research facilities at the University.
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.
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 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, 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.”
Words by Louise Russell
7 October 2011