Written by: Nathaniel Tok, Peak Associate
SFU and the Fraser Health Authority have partnered to open a brand-new medical imaging facility at the Surrey Memorial Hospital. The facility, named ImageTech, went public on September 18, and is hailed by a SFU media release to be the “first-of-its-kind in Western Canada.”
ImageTech combines many advanced imaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and various computing platforms.
This combination of equipment lets researchers use medical imaging to “watch the brain in action” in real time, looking at brain function and structure. These images grant insight that allows researchers to evaluate, diagnose, monitor, and improve treatments for brain-related disorders and conditions such as Down syndrome, dementia, and depression.
In an email interview with The Peak, Ryan D’Arcy, SFU engineering and computing science professor, Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation BC Leadership Chair in Multimodal Technology for Healthcare Innovations, and one of the researchers in the lab, medical imaging enables “rapid, safe, powerful insights deep into our bodies’ structures and functions.”
“[Medical imaging] creates disruptive breakthroughs in medicine and science around the world, at dizzying rates.” – Ryan D’Arcy, ImageTech researcher and SFU engineering and computing science professor
D’Arcy believes that access to an advanced medical imaging facility like ImageTech will augment SFU researchers’ capabilities.
“Few other breakthroughs have been more impactful to individual healthcare, more rapidly, than those in medical imaging,” wrote D’Arcy.
The idea of creating ImageTech first emerged in 2012 as a joint venture between the Fraser Health Authority and SFU to develop the Health and Technology District in Surrey, a hub of research and innovation striving to make advancements in health care outcomes and experiences. Funding came from a variety of sources such as Western Economic Diversification Canada, Canada Foundation for Innovation, the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund, Philips Canada CTF MEG, and others.
ImageTech itself stands within the Health and Technology District so as to make its advanced medical imaging capabilities available for SFU and Fraser Health Authority experts to use.
The facility is a multi-user regional healthcare asset. Scientists from SFU, BC Children’s Hospital, Fraser Health Neurology, and Fraser Health Radiology are currently active in the facility.
Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development in the House of Commons, and the minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, praised the ImageTech Lab as a milestone for Surrey and SFU. He noted that the facility created room for “partnerships between researchers, entrepreneurs, and healthcare professionals.”
SFU’s vice-president, research and international Joy Johnson echoed those statements, calling the lab “a testament to the power of collaboration and partnerships.”
The lab already has a multi-disciplinary team in place from various organizations apart from SFU and the Fraser Health Authority, such as UBC, the BC Children’s Hospital, the BC Cancer Agency, and more.
Beyond its research capabilities, the lab will also contribute to the healthcare needs of the region. In the SFU media release, Dr. Victoria Lee, vice-president, population health and chief medical health officer for Fraser Health, commented that the lab will help researchers better understand diseases and their impact on people’s lives. Lee commented that the research facilitated by ImageTech will help “influence the innovation and advancement of health care.”
SFU president Andrew Petter was quoted in the press release, summarizing ImageTech’s role in SFU as a force multiplier for the university’s health technology capabilities and a contributor to community health as SFU grows in its role as Canada’s engaged university.