Fixel Institute expands care with new neuroimaging and clinical research suites
A 15,000-square-foot neuroimaging suite that includes four high-tech imaging machines — including one of just three in the Southeast — opened Monday as the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at UF Health moves into a new phase of its growth.
In addition to expanded clinical and research space, clinicians and researchers will now have access to two 3 Tesla MRI machines, a PET-CT machine and a magnetoencephalography, or MEG, scanner through the UF Health Dorothy Mangurian Neuroimaging Suite.
Providing centrally located care for neurological disorders has been the mission of the Fixel Institute since it opened its doors in July 2019.
“The new imaging has been deliberately co-located on the Fixel Institute Campus to further support our philosophy to make patients and families the sun and to have care orbit around them,” said Michael Okun, M.D., the institute’s co-director.
Four new, artificial intelligence-dedicated clinician researchers are joining the Fixel Institute and UF Health as the space opens: Abbas Babajani-Feremi, Ph.D, an associate professor of neurology and director of the MEG lab; Reza Forghani, M.D, Ph.D., a professor of radiology and vice chair of artificial intelligence; Brandon Zielinski, M.D., Ph.D., chief of pediatric neurology and an associate professor of neurology and Joshua Wong, M.D., an assistant professor of neurology.
The MEG scanner works by measuring magnetic fields produced by electrical activity in the brain, which helps surgeons preparing for epilepsy-related surgery pinpoint the exact location in the brain causing seizures.
Besides helping doctors plan surgeries for patients with brain tumors, MEG will also advance research in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.
“MEG is a powerful technology that offers a noninvasive, comprehensive assessment of critical brain functions — including language, motor, auditory and visual processing — with unprecedented ability to determine precisely where and when activity occurs in the brain. Such assessments not only aid in guiding care and treatment decisions but also serve as a roadmap for future research and discoveries,” said Babajani-Feremi.
Funding for the neuroimaging and clinical research suites came from more than 20 donors to the Fixel Institute, including the Harry T. Mangurian Jr. Foundation, the Lee and Lauren Fixel Family Foundation, the Curtis family and others. Donor contributions totaled $20 million.
The new suites will move the needle in the care, treatment and research of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders that the Fixel Institute specializes in, said Okun.
“This will help us visualize the brain in ways we have not previously imagined,” Okun said. “Imaging will play a critical role — not only for comprehensive care, but also for access to hundreds of clinical trials. We will dramatically increase the capacity of trials we can offer and the number of patients we can reach.”
Kelly Foote, M.D., co-director of the institute, said the combination of UF’s Artificial Intelligence focus, the ultramodern suite and its new doctors and researchers will solidify the Fixel Institute and UF Health’s reputation as “world leaders in transformational care and research for complex neurological disorders.”
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