By 2019, the Swiss Institute for Translational and Entrepreneurial Medicine (sitem-insel AG) will be established in Bern. Sitem-insel AG will host enabling facilities near the clinic and a one-of-a-kind service for a wide range of translational research options. The Translational Imaging Center is planned to be one of the core facilities.
This imaging platform will enable translational research ranging from the chemical analysis of samples to model systems and organs to whole body clinical and ultra-high field (UHF) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which are integrally linked to the clinical environment and the clinical research of the University of Bern and the Inselspital. Thanks to standardised technology, this allows for the transfer of scientific methods and findings between the research levels of cellular research, biomedical technology, and patient-related research. Furthermore, the translational approach promotes the development of medical products in the field of pharmacology and medical technology, offering an entrepreneurial platform for university spin-offs.
Magnetic resonance technology, in particular UHF, opens up a non-invasive examination option for investigating the structure and function of biological tissue. With the paradigm shift from cohort to personalised medicine, it marks a cornerstone for diagnostics and therapy monitoring and the research of new biomarkers. MR methodology continues to develop at a breakneck pace, and increasingly specia lised applications have opened up a research environment for comprehensive synergistic research areas consisting of biology, medicine, and other basic research, including magnetic resonance physics and the human sciences (e.g. psychology). Therefore, the different working groups at the university and the Inselspital, which are established in the field of magnetic resonance research, have already joined forces to form a research consortium in order to develop a joint concept for qualifications, further education, and translational research, and to realise cooperation within this single research platform. It will comprise the full spectrum of research from the cell level up to clinical research for patients on the human high and ultra high field magnetic resonance devices (3 to 7 tesla full-body devices), but also include the engineering sciences, IT, and cognitive neuro sciences.
The heart of the research centre will be an innovative 7 tesla UHF MRI device, which is the first generation of UHF-MRI designed specifically to include a complete clinical mode of operation. In terms of diagnosis and treatment monitoring this development opens up a new chapter in medical imaging. For the first time, it solves previously unresolved medical, legal as well as technical and structural aspects. The translational and clinical research potential is immense and allows a quantum leap in all medical fields that benefit from high-resolution morphological or functional magnetic resonance examinations. Locating the Translational Imaging Center in sitem-insel AG and hence in close spatial proximity to the Inselspital is ideal. The Insel Group is one of the largest general hospitals in Europe. In 2016, over 30 000 clinical MRT examinations were performed here. Furthermore, the Inselspital and the University of Bern possess outstanding international scientific expertise, which will allow to drive the translation of UHF-MRI to improve clinical diagnosis and treatment.
Availability of the intended imaging infrastructure in an that area close to the clinic is practically unique worldwide, and would not have been possible without the initial work done by sitem-insel AG. The location is ideal for Bern and, thanks to the central location and easy accessibility, it is also highly suitable at a national level. Internationally, the Translational Imaging Center places Switzerland in a leading research position in Europe for the further qualitative augmentation of translational innovations.