Over the past few years a number of initiatives have been taken to bolster collaboration and unleash synergies between the Karolinska University Hospital, Region Stockholm, and Karolinska Institutet, not least within the field of precision medicine. The Centre for Imaging Research – which was inaugurated today – is yet another manifestation of the close collaboration between these parties.
The Centre for Imaging Research has been many years in the making. Not surprisingly, given the complexity involved in building a collection of facilities for cutting-edge structural, functional, and metabolic in vivo imaging across organs and species. Most of the facilities are located in floor 4 of the BioClinicum building. For years, “floor 4” has been the one word distillation of the hopes and expectations coupled to the plans for the new center. Now, finally, we can go from “imagining to imaging”, from “imagine to image”, from dream to reality.
The process has not been without its challenges, but these have been overcome thanks to the efforts and collaborative spirit of those involved. Of the many who are deserving of my sincere thanks I would like to mention one person specifically: Stefan Eriksson. He has worked tirelessly on the “floor 4” project over the entire length of my KI presidency and has been the primary liaison between the KI leadership and the project management.
My vision has always been that the new Centre will emerge as a leading hub for multimodal imaging and translational research. I have no doubt that the Center will deliver on this promise. Its competitive edge will be secured through its combination of endovascular/minimally invasive surgical techniques and imaging, including unique and next-generation imaging instruments. Add to this the radio pharmacy and radioligand development facility and the radioligand binding and autoradiography unit and we have a hub that will drive translational research in many years to come. What remains to be done is to firmly integrate the Center in the ongoing precision medicine initiatives. I am sure that this issue will be taken care of.
Our ambition at KI is that this joint Centre with Karolinska University Hospital and Region Stockholm will become world leading within imaging – in terms of research as well as clinical applications. This is an ambition with history. Already in 1978, the first computer tomograph outside UK was installed at the Karolinska Hospital, followed the year after by the first full positron emission tomography system (PET) in Northern Europe. Both achievements were results of a close collaboration between KI and the hospital and were followed up by a long line of joint investments such as the magnetic resonance tomography (MR) Centre in 1994, the magnetoencephalography facility (NatMEG) in 2012 to today’s Centre for imaging research. The Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation has provided invaluable support along the way.
Infrastructure is important. Infrastructure gives us the muscles, but we also need the minds. Many excellent scientists are already coupled to the Centre, but we need to recruit new talents in the years to come. The Centre´s attractiveness will depend on the quality of its infrastructure, but even more so on the quality of its research. My hope is that the Centre will be in the international forefront on both counts.