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Roche gives MRI equipment a second life

04.06.2021

Basel-based pharmaceutical and diagnostics company Roche has decommissioned two MRI machines that are no longer in use. One complete device was donated to ETH Zurich/University of Zurich. The electronic parts of the second device were given to the Department of Biomedical Engineering of the University of Basel at the site Allschwil of the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area.

One of the low-field MRI scanners at the AMT Center (img: University of Basel)

Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, headquartered in Basel, regularly supports universities and institutions with equipment to promote research and education in Switzerland and worldwide. In practice, Roche typically donates equipment that is no longer needed at one of their sites. This was the case recently with two MRI machines that were located in Basel. MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) enable high soft-tissue contrast and detailed imaging of the inside of the body, nicely depicting anatomical changes and physiological processes – such as in the brain and muscles. Unlike X-rays, patients are not exposed to radiation during an MRI scan, which makes MRI scanners a safe and key tool in medical diagnostics.

Roche has now donated the two devices to academic institutions. While one device was delivered to ETH Zurich/University of Zurich in its original condition, the second device was disassembled, and the electronics, parts of the cooling system, as well as the RF and gradient coils were given to the Center for Adaptable MRI Technology (AMT Center) at the Department of Biomedical Engineering (DBE) of the University of Basel.

For the DBE, located at the site Allschwil of the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area, the donation is highly welcome. The various parts donated by Roche will contribute in improving the technical performance of the low magnetic field MRI systems that the AMT Center is developing and will be used to test advanced methods and acquisition strategies. The results of such proof-of-concept studies will help in the development of new generations of MRI scanners as well as upgrades to existing MRI scanners at the DBE.

The fact that Roche and the DBE came into contact with each other can be traced back to a lucky encounter at the Innovation Park in Allschwil. Dr. Christof Klöpper, CEO of the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area, gave Dr. Geo Adam, Global Head of pRED Facilities & Infrastructure Projects at Roche Pharma Research, a tour of the Innovation Park, where they eventually met the directors of the AMT Center, Prof. Najat Salameh and Prof. Mathieu Sarracanie. Salameh and Sarracanie recall: “We casually got on the topic of MRI and Adam generously offered us one of their preclinical scanners that they were about to take out of service. We were of course very happy to accept the offer.” This encounter nicely illustrates how the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area is an ideal platform for bringing research and industry into contact with each other.

With the donation, it was possible to avoid disposing of the equipment no longer of use in Roche’s new research center. The devices are fully functional and should continue to be used in the spirit of sustainability. Both the complete MRI device and the electronics of the second device have already been installed by the universities and are functioning perfectly – a prime example of constructive cooperation, optimal resource conservation and research support.

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