South East Wales

Queen to open Cardiff University's brain research centre

Cubric Image copyright Cardiff University
Image caption The Welsh Government is supporting the centre with £3.4m.

The Queen is to open the new £44m Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (Cubric) next month.

The royal visit on 7 June will include a look at Europe's most powerful brain scanner, of which there is only one other in the world at Harvard University in the United States.

It will allow scientists to look at how brains work in minute detail.

The Maindy Park building, finished a year ago, will bring together four hi-tech scanners under one roof.

The centre will concentrate on research to hopefully understand more about the causes of conditions like dementia, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia.

Image copyright Science Photo Library

The Connectom scanner is six times more powerful than a conventional hospital MRI scanner and has been described as the "Hubble space telescope of neuroscience".

It will allow researchers to study brain cells only 1000th of a millimetre across.

Using a conventional scanner has been described as looking at a galaxy through a telescope and seeing a blur.

Image copyright Reuters

Vice-Chancellor Prof Colin Riordan said the university was "honoured" to welcome The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to open the centre.

"This will be a fitting occasion for a facility that is not only significant for the university but for Wales, the UK and Europe," he said.

"The research here has the potential to unlock some of the secrets of the brain and significantly contribute towards treatments for neurological and psychiatric conditions."

Prof Derek Jones, centre director, said: "This is the culmination of a huge amount of hard work by many people over several years and I would like to thank everyone who played their part in creating this remarkable facility.

"The combination of the very best staff in their field and some of the most powerful scanners in the world has the potential for breakthroughs that could make a real difference to people's lives around the world."

Image copyright Cardiff University
Image caption Scientists hope to make breakthroughs within 20 years using the most powerful scanner

The royal couple will be invited to view brain imaging procedures and pupils from a local school will take part in activities to illustrate the power of the brain.

A specially-commissioned sculpture created by PhD student Gemma Williams from the University's School of Psychology will also be unveiled.

Cubric will be four times larger than the university's existing brain research imaging facilities.

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