Congratulations, Finnish Biomedical Imaging Node!

Published: 2021-12-16

The Finnish Biomedical Imaging Node (FiBI) is a multi-sited, multimodal Node with sites in Turku, Kuopio, Aalto and Helsinki Universities. This Node covers biomedical imaging from mouse to man, with key expertise in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, neuroscience, and cancer. After joining Euro-BioImaging in December 2020, the Node got its first opportunity to work together to apply for funding from the Academy of Finland, one of the main funders of research infrastructures in Finland, in 2021 – and their proposal was successful! With 5.1 Million Euros of investment, including 2.5 M Euros from the Academy of Finland, their technology offer will become even more state-of-the-art and their operations even more efficient. Tiina Saanijoki, Coordinator of the Finnish BioMedical Imaging Node, explains how this investment gives the Node a great boost, and shares some of the exciting technologies that will be available to Euro-BioImaging users thanks to this grant. 

Stronger together 

“Applying for funding was a logical step for our Node in its first year of operations,” explains Tiina Saanijoki. “The process was extremely competitive, but coming together as a national infrastructure to become part of Euro-BioImaging set the stage for our success. We learned to collaborate across sites, but also to analyze our infrastructure and consider what would make our offer even stronger - collectively. By doing this, we were able to make a strong case to invest in machines, personnel and the information management system that would set us apart from other biomedical imaging facilities in Finland and internationally. We never could have raised such a large sum as individual institutions. Being coordinated at the national level was key.” In addition, being part of Euro-BioImaging, an international research infrastructure on Finland’s national roadmap meant that Finnish Biomedical Imaging Node qualified for an Academy of Finland Research Infrastructure grant. “The Academy of Finland grants FIRI-funding to nationally significant research infrastructures that promote scientific research. The Research Infrastructure Committee bases its funding decision on the panel peer review statement, the strategic commitment of the research organisations to the research infrastructure and the views of the Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment. Additionally, the Research Infrastructure Committee takes into account the expected effects of the project on national and international research infrastructure activity and national perspectives related to e.g. the strategic development areas mentioned in the Strategy for National Research Infrastructures in Finland 2020–2030. Funding is granted to research infrastructures and projects that fulfill all these criteria in an excellent way.” says Paula Leskinen, Science Adviser of Academy of Finland. 

Bringing state-of-the-art preclinical imaging technology to Finland

The funding money will be distributed across the 4 Node sites and used to purchase instruments, a laboratory information management system, and cover personnel costs. The total investment of 5.1 million Euros includes 2.5 million Euros from the Academy of Finland, with the remaining funds coming from the host institutions. “The icing on the cake is definitely the new multimodal 3D PET Optical Tomography setup that will be housed at the In Vivo Animal Imaging Platform in the University of Helsinki – it’s the first such system in Finland!” says Tiina Saanijoki. “This multimodal preclinical setup in Helsinki brings together four imaging modalities: PET, CT, SPECT and 3D optical Tomography. It makes it possible to study both deep tissue distribution of tracers with nuclear imaging and correlate that to for example reporter gene expression with optical imaging in a single imaging experiment. It will be great for our users.” 

In addition to the new machine at the University of Helsinki, Aalto NeuroImaging will acquire the latest MEG machine to continue excellent neuroscience research and the University of Eastern Finland will acquire a new micro-CT system to complement their existing high-field MRI and PET/MRI platform. And of course, there will be investment in staff to handle the machines and serve users at the highest level. Finally, a new laboratory information system, which digitalizes the manufacturing management of radiopharmaceuticals, will finalize the big, ongoing development of the enterprise resource planning system in Turku PET Centre.

It supports the quality system and will be a great time-saver for personnel and ultimately - through better quality – an important step towards ensuring continued scientific excellence for the Node.

Tiina Saanijoki (right) and her colleague from the Finnish Biomedical Imaging Node analyze PET images. Image credit: Solveig Eriksson

Attracting users from industry

Excellent science – through better quality management and more efficient operations. The new laboratory information system will lead to more traceability to manage the full production cycle from the radio nuclei to the patient. This is super important for cultivating industry clients who need everything (machine parameters, etc) to be fully electronically logged.  “The pharmaceutical industry really appreciates this – so we hope that this investment will open new doors for greater collaboration with industry users,” says Tiina Saanijoki.

Towards a more mature service-offer

After just one year of operations as a Node, the new investment is sure to boost biomedical imaging by bringing new technologies & better quality management to the Node. “This grant really helps our Node to grow into a mature Euro-BioImaging Node by helping us to develop our services. We are very thankful to our home institutions and the Academy of Finland,” concludes Tiina.  

About Finnish Biomedical Imaging Node

With wide coverage of imaging modalities and expertise, the Finnish Biomedical Imaging Node provides exceptional opportunities not only for basic research but also for translational research from small animals to larger animals to humans and to the clinic within a single Node. Users from academia and industry can apply to use the technologies and expertise available at this Node via Euro-BioImaging

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