One of the hallmarks of Cincinnati Children’s is the huge role that research plays in our mission. It is not always obvious, but one way or the other, research impacts almost all of our activities. Researchers who study research (yes, there are people who do this for a living!) have come to realize that there is an entire spectrum in the way that medical research is performed. At one end are the scientists who work to create new knowledge using test tubes and cell cultures. In the middle of the spectrum are the scientists and clinicians who try to bring this new knowledge to the treatment of patients, and at the far end are scientists who investigate questions affecting entire populations of patients. Although scientists at both extremes of this spectrum make important contributions, they rarely ever see a real patient.
Making a laboratory idea evolve into knowledge that impacts the treatment of a patient, which then leads to a deeper understanding of disease, requires a team effort and an environment with all the tools and resources needed to get the job done. The movement of ideas from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside is called translational research, and it can only be effectively done in a place that has both basic research and clinical care.
Each day throughout Cincinnati Children’s, translational research takes place as researchers and patients join in partnership to try to solve some of the most difficult problems on the planet. The importance of this partnership can be seen with the dedication of the new Clinical Sciences building. Also known as “location T,” the Clinical Sciences building is a state-of-the-art research tower where patients involved in research studies can receive clinical care and participate in research studies in a single visit. Patients can move seamlessly from the hospital to a welcoming facility whose resources include 28 exam rooms, a metabolic kitchen, and a state-of-the-art imaging center.
At the heart of the imaging center is a large 3 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging system operated by the Imaging Research Center. This system has a superconducting magnet that is 60,000 times stronger than the earth’s magnetic field as well as all of the hardware needed to perform sophisticated imaging in translational research studies. The system can create detailed images of anatomy throughout the body, map the brain as it works, and reveal details of metabolism without requiring a biopsy.
Because of the size of the magnet, the MR system had to be delivered before the T building was complete! Earlier this year, a large crane lowered the magnet from Sabin Way into the first floor of the building where a crew of riggers moved it into the imaging suite. A few weeks later, after the T building was complete, the system was commissioned. It is now ready to serve any and all patients participating in translational research programs at Cincinnati Children’s and the University of Cincinnati.
Contributed by Charles Dumoulin, PhD, IRC Director, Professor of Radiology and edited by Wendy Bankes.