MBI opens new state-of-the-art labs

By Michelle Koidin Jaffee

Newly renovated high-tech labs are now up and running in the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute that will significantly enhance human subject research capability across the UF campus.

Researchers from many disciplines will benefit greatly from the new labs — whether they’re on the quest to discover ways to slow age-related memory loss, better understand brain development of adolescents or advance knowledge of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

UF’s Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory Clinical Translational Research (CAM Center) and the Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy Facility (AMRIS) now have new expanded spaces in the MBI that will support a wide array of ongoing and new studies.

Formerly configured as conference rooms LG-110A and B, the ground-floor spaces have been turned into testing rooms for clinical and cognitive assessments, an electrophysiology suite, a transcranial magnetic stimulation lab and new waiting areas for study participants right next door to the new Siemens 3T MRI/S state-of-the-art scanner commissioned in January. In addition, there is a new phlebotomy lab in close proximity.

CAM waiting room
neural imaging equipment
neural imaging equipment
lab space
MRI machine
MRI machine

The expanded AMRIS facility will serve investigators from across campus who are working with human subjects using both the Siemens and the Philips 3T MRI instruments. Investigators seeking to use the new AMRIS facility may make reservations on the AMRIS website.

“This new space will allow researchers more space and flexibility to screen and test their research participants before or after using the MRI scanners,” said AMRIS director Joanna Long, Ph.D. “We are also looking forward to research participants taking advantage of our new comfortable waiting area, should they arrive early.”

The new Cognitive Aging and Memory space will serve investigators conducting human clinical trials as well as basic research studies.

“This is a major milestone for us,” said CAM Center director Ronald Cohen, Ph.D. “This space provides critical infrastructure that will enable successful completion of our current research on cognitive and brain aging and also support continued growth of NIH-funded research focusing on the original mission of the endowment from the McKnight Brain Research Foundation.”

That mission is to support scientific research aimed at understanding and alleviating age-related memory loss.

The new location of the center in close proximity to AMRIS significantly improves logistics, as many CAM Center studies involve neuroimaging, Cohen said.

“These facilitates also bring human clinical translational research back to the MBI, thereby fulfilling an important goal of its mission,” Cohen said.

For trial participants, the new spaces will offer far greater convenience.

“It becomes a one-stop shop for cognitive aging and memory research,” said Adam Woods, Ph.D., CAM Center assistant director, who is leading a team on the largest Phase III clinical trial yet designed to test transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS. “Previously, we used a golf cart to shuttle people from place to place on campus for different research services. Now, we have a state-of-the-art research facility with parking spaces nearby, that provides participants with a central location for cognitive aging and memory research studies.”

Other MBI renovations this spring and summer have included the relocation of the UF Center for Smell and Taste to the ground floor of the MBI and relocation of the MBI administrative offices to the fifth floor of the building.

The final phase of this portion of MBI structural renovations, which have been funded by the institute, is underway and includes upgrading the equipment in conference rooms on each floor to offer the latest equipment and upgraded meeting space now that LG-110 is no longer available.