July 11, 2017, by Rob Ounsworth

Precision Imaging: driving the development of personalised medicine

In the third of a series introducing the University of Nottingham’s Beacons of Excellence — transdisciplinary research teams championing our responses to global challenges — Professor Dorothee Auer, Director of Precision Imaging, explains how our research will help revolutionise treatment and diagnosis.

One in five people in the East Midlands live with a chronic disease or disability – higher than the national average. Across the UK, one in four people is affected by a mental health condition, almost one in two suffer from chronic pain.

As a society, we need to improve the lives of those living with chronic and mental health conditions.

Today, we treat people after they became unwell, using treatments tried and tested for the average patient.

The promise for tomorrow’s medicine is personalised and pre-emptive care —whereby treatments are tailored to each person’s individual pathology and health risk.

The hope for such a healthcare revolution is underpinned by massively accelerated biomedical breakthroughs fuelled by technological, science and knowledge advances and, last but not least, big data.

At the forefront of biomedical imaging research

For it to succeed, we need to transform medical diagnosis moving from recognition of traditional disease categories to definition of specific biotypes linked to disease processes.

This is what our beacon is about, developing future imaging as the magic looking glass.

The task is complex, but Nottingham is ideally placed to spearhead this development.

We are at the forefront of biomedical imaging research and foremost the birthplace of MRI. Our research has transformed lives and revolutionised medical diagnosis across the world.

We are a team of leading experts in medical imaging research working with international authorities in analytics, big data and uncertainty modeling.

Making possible personalised medicine

Our Biomedical Research Centre nurtures strong partnerships with the NHS, patients and industry – partnerships that are critically important to translate discovery science in meaningful health benefits in the UK and across the world.

Together, we will produce the next step change in medical diagnosis, by developing the next generation of imaging systems, and highly innovative imaging and analytic tools.

We will focus on mechanistic imaging to provide precise and comprehensive systems analysis of the body’s internal structures and functions to predict health risks, and to determine which treatment will work best.

We are already seeing that mental health disorders are much better understood through leading-edge analysis of brain network imaging.

With the Beacon, we now go a step further developing individualised, image-guided treatments aimed to fine tune brain networks in order to restore mental health, and thus wellbeing.

Looking ahead, precision imaging research in our beacon will make possible the magic wand of personalised medicine, in order to change lives, now and in the future.

Find out more about Precision Imaging.

MRI researchers increase our understanding of the lifeline of unborn babies — the placenta

Professor Dorothee Auer is Director of the Precision Imaging Beacon of Excellence

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