Patients in Yorkshire set to benefit from revolutionary medical imaging thanks to £2 million fundraising appeal

Patients in Yorkshire are set to benefit from the region’s first MRI-PET scanner, which will accelerate pioneering research into a number of life-changing diseases, thanks to thousands of generous donations.

The Sheffield Scanner Appeal, launched by the University of Sheffield in 2017, has now reached its £2 million fundraising target thanks to more than 11,000 donations from people across the region and around the globe, who donated to help bring the revolutionary scanner to Yorkshire.

The high-tech scanner will provide unprecedented views of inside the human body by combining the power of both MRI and PET images in a single scan. It will help leading scientists and medics tackle some of the most devastating diseases facing millions of people including dementia, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease (MND).

The facility will also bring more clinical trials to the region, giving patients in Yorkshire access to ground-breaking new innovative treatments that are being developed.

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “The success of this fundraising campaign is a fantastic achievement and marks the beginning of an exciting journey for the University, the Sheffield city region and beyond. I am extremely proud that Sheffield will now be home to one of only eight MRI-PET scanners in the UK.”

The fundraising campaign has been led by Professor Dame Pam Shaw, Vice-President and Head of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health at the University of Sheffield, and Director of the Sheffield NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Translational Neuroscience.

Dame Pam said: “The Sheffield Scanner is a cutting edge imaging system which enables us to not only look at the structure of the body in great detail, but also the function of tissues, for example the metabolism of glucose and oxygen to make energy.

“The combination of these two imaging techniques – MRI and PET – in one machine will let us detect extremely small abnormalities very accurately. We are hoping, and expecting, this will allow us to diagnose medical conditions much earlier. We will also be able to monitor how new innovative treatments are working much more nimbly than we have in the past.

“This will be the only MRI-PET scanner in Yorkshire, so it will be of great benefit to people in Sheffield and across the wider region. We also hope that the pioneering research that the scanner makes possible will have a global impact and benefit people across the world.”

Over the past 18 months, staff, current and former students, members of the public and local business community, and friends of the University have supported the Sheffield Scanner campaign. From one-off major gifts and sponsored sporting events to quiz nights and bake sales, more than 11,000 people have got behind the campaign. The University of Sheffield has also matched every £1 raised through the £2 million appeal to fund for the facility.

Dame Pam added: “I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed to the Sheffield Scanner campaign – it has been truly inspiring.

“People have contributed in so many different ways, from baking cakes and knitting crafts to running marathons and walking 50 miles across the Peak District. We are also enormously grateful to major philanthropists who have been inspired by our vision and supported the campaign.

“It is absolutely wonderful to know that this incredible scanner will now be coming to Sheffield. This has grown from one conversation with our former Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, who asked me what would make a step change in our University’s medical research. It has taken several years, but I am so happy, excited and pleased that it has now happened thanks to so many good-hearted and generous people.”

Gemma Middleton from Worksop has supported the Sheffield Scanner campaign since its launch. Her story, captured on video, inspired lots of people to donate to the new MRI-PET scanner.

Gemma began with symptoms of MND in September 2015 and was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative condition at 29 years old. At the moment, MND affects Gemma’s movement and speech. In the future, the condition will ultimately paralyze her body and also affect her breathing. The scanner will help to accelerate research carried out at the Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), which is leading the way in MND research.

“I would like to say thank you so much to everyone who has donated towards the Sheffield Scanner Appeal and helped to bring the scanner to Sheffield,” said Gemma.

Work on the new Sheffield Scanner facility, which will be attached to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, will get underway later this month. When installed the scanner will also help to enhance the work of scientists and clinicians at Sheffield’s NIHR Biomedical Research Centre dedicated to translational neuroscience for chronic neurological disorders.

The Biomedical Research Centre, which was launched in April 2017, is a research partnership between the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and aims to improve the treatment and care of people living with neurological diseases such as MND, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, stroke and dementia.

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