The cutting-edge technology inside Mizzou's $214 million Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health Building – Columbia Daily Tribune

Some of the most advanced medical technology will be featured at the grand opening Tuesday of the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health Building.
The 265,000-square-foot building at 1030 Hitt St. has been a priority for the University of Missouri and system President Mun Choi.
Now it’s on the verge of opening.
Workers were busy Friday preparing for the grand opening, even as researchers were starting their work in the wet labs.
Budgeted for $220 million, the facility was completed for $214 million.
Choi and NextGen director Richard Barohn discussed the technology this past week.
“We are not state-of-the-art,” Barohn said Friday. “We are making the art.”
Inside is the Siemens Healthineers MAGNETOM Terra 7 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging unit, the first one in Missouri.
At nearly 25 tons, officials describe it as the centerpiece of the building. It was described as “the Ferrari of MRIs” by Tali Altes, chair of the MU School of Medicine’s Department of Radiology, in August.
The MRI allows for extremely detailed images of the brain and other body organs.
It’s the most sophisticated piece of equipment of its kind, Choi said Wednesday.
“It will be able to very precisely image areas of the human body,” Barohn said. “It will allow scientists and clinicians to diagnose disease.”
The first images have been taken with the new MRI, Barohn said.
Also featured is the Electron Microscopy Core.
Encompassing four pieces of Thermo Fisher equipment, it includes the Thermo Scientific Krios G4 Cryo-TEM, Thermo Scientific Aquillos Cryo-FIB, Thermo Scientific Helios Hydra and the Thermo Scientific Spectra 300 TEM.
Other Thermo Fisher equipment went to Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
“The facility is going to be one of the best in the Midwest,” Choi said of the electron microscopy core.
There’s a microscope for whatever research is being done, Barohn said.
“The Cryo-TEM can actually image proteins in cells,” he said.
Every aspect of the imaging can be done at NextGen, said spokeswoman Stephanie Fleming, from sample preparation to imaging and preparing a report. Elsewhere, each function is in a separate location.
“Thermo Fisher is one of the premier manufacturers of imaging equipment in the nation,” Barohn said.
The Siemens MRI precisely images organs, while the Thermo Fisher equipment precisely images cells and proteins within cells, Barohn said.
“The equipment is already humming,” Barohn said.
Patients for research trials may be using the equipment within three or four weeks, he said.
The technology at NextGen can be leveraged with the work already going on at the MU Research Reactor, Choi said.
“Our goal is to develop new isotopes” for cancer treatments,” Choi said.
Although not equipment, Barohn said the Clinical Translational Science Unit represents an advance where researchers will work on clinical trials.
“This will be the home for those scientists and for the patients with those disorders,” Barohn said.
On other campuses, the University of Missouri-Kansas City will use advanced analytics to find new ways to visualize and analyze health data, Choi said.
The NextGen center with its equipment has helped the university recruit top researchers from around the country, Choi said. That combination can be used to apply for National Institutes of Health and other federal research grants.
The equipment is on the cutting edge now, but with rapidly advancing technology, will it remain on the cutting edge for long?
Since the technology is so far ahead of the pack now, Barohn said he thinks the technology can be current for 10 years or more, and when it’s no longer current, MU will be ready.
“It’s going to be cutting edge for quite awhile,” Barohn said.
The grand opening ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, will take part, Fleming said.
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