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Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre

Department of Clinical Neurosciences

Dear Colleagues,

After a uniquely challenging year, I am writing, on behalf of the WBIC team, to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a very different New Year!

All of our research projects have been affected by the extraordinary events of 2020. The sudden closure of the University in March, and the subsequent restriction of activity in the WBIC to COVID-related or NHS-related research was a major crisis for us all, and the challenges of life in the time of COVID have persisted in the months since.

As a University facility, the WBIC was relatively quick to reopen for research in late June. We have managed the safety requirements carefully since then and are now providing a safe environment for a wide range of research projects, involving patients and healthy volunteers. This is to the immense credit of the whole WBIC team, but especially Vicky Lupson and the team of radiographers, who have been tasked with new procedures for scheduling, cleaning, and managing access to the site. All of this has been delivered in the context of reduced staffing, and a more difficult working environment, with great efficiency and good humour.

The Radiopharmaceutical Unit successfully completed an external audit by the MHRA in October and has since been producing a range of old and new radioligands with high reliability. The 7T TERRA system has been busier than ever with some very exciting data beginning to emerge and several new studies starting. The 3T systems have been instrumental in providing new insights into the impact of SARS-CoV2 infection on the brain – including some studies of patients with acute, severe COVID that were conducted at the peak of the first wave. Our partners in CUH have been well supported by access to radioligands and 3T scanner time to keep providing crucial diagnostic services for the NHS over the very difficult period since March. And now, as we come to the end of the year, I am delighted to report that even during November’s second lockdown, we exceeded the levels of activity we had been predicting before COVID. The WBIC never completely stopped working, despite COVID, and now we really are back up and running!

We are continuing to schedule scans up to and including December 23rd on all platforms. After the Christmas break we are also taking bookings for the 3T SKYRA from January 4th, and for the 3T PRISMA and 7T TERRA platforms from January 7th. Due to routine annual maintenance works, the Radiopharmaceutical Unit is unavailable until January 18th, which will affect many PET scans, but the PET/MR scanner is available for MR only work (and for studies using tracers delivered from external sites) from January 7th.

Please make sure that you engage with us as soon as possible so we can talk to you about continuing or restarting your research in the New Year. If you contact us at, we will be happy to discuss your requirements and we will do our best to ensure that we can fit you into next year’s schedule, which is already looking busy.

In the meantime, on behalf of everyone in the WBIC, I would like to thank you for your extraordinary levels of support and resilience throughout 2020. I hope you have a restful and festive holiday at the end of this uniquely challenging year and that 2021 will bring fewer COVID-related challenges to stand in the way of continued progress across the whole portfolio of neuroimaging research in Cambridge.

Professor Ed Bullmore