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Research facilities

 

Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences Research Facilities  

Our School offers a rich and powerful infrastructure that helps drive our innovative research and outcomes.

We have 4,000 sqm of offices, computer laboratories, and seminar rooms and 1,000 sqm of engineering, physics, chemistry and biology laboratories. 

Our research is conducted in Guy's & St Thomas’ NHS Hospital Trust, part of the UK’s most research-active NHS Hospital Trusts, utilising the latest technologies to deliver the most impact for patients.

"Significant investment has gone into the School’s infrastructure. The School’s phenomenal infrastructure offerings provide students, researchers and clinicians a powerful platform to investigate, develop and innovate the best healthcare research and technologies."

Professor Sebastien Ourselin, Head of School

 

London Collaborative Ultra-High field System (LoCUS) facility

Ultra-high field MRI offers the potential to achieve higher resolution imaging with novel contrast and enhanced spectroscopy capability compared to clinical field strength systems.

King's College London working in collaboration with GSTT, University College London, Imperial College, and The Institute of Cancer Research has created the London Collaborative Ultra-High field System (LoCUS) facility.

The facilities include:

  • 7T Terra scanner manufactured by Siemens Healthineers, with imaging and spectroscopy capabilities
  • Fully equipped clinical support infrastructure and RF engineering labs to provide a platform for coil development, rapid translation of new imaging methods and fundamental technology research
  • Specialist hardware to support key applications and a core team of expert physicists and clinicians to support research

Imaging Clinical Research Facility

The imaging clinical research facility located within St Thomas’ Hospital includes 4 advanced MRI systems that are used to deliver clinical services to more than 5,000 patients per year, as well as a diverse range of imaging research projects. Particular strengths are in cardiovascular and perinatal sub-specialties.

The facilities include:

  • Rayne Institute Philips Achieva 3T MRI scanner – used particularly for cardiovascular imaging and pre-clinical research
  • Philips Ingenia 1.5T wide bore MRI scanner – used for diverse applications, including cardiovascular and late trimester fetal imaging, as well as facilitating imaging of patients with implants or a high BMI
  • Siemens XMR Suite, incorporating a Siemens Aera 1.5T wide bore MRI and a biplane cardiac catheter angiography laboratory. Each side of the system can be used independently, or in tandem for hybrid MRI/x-ray guided interventional procedures
  • Soon to be installed Siemens Vida 3T MRI scanner providing state-of-the-art clinical and research imaging capabilities

Pre-Clinical Imaging

Our School also benefits from pre-clinical imaging facilities which see a broad range of novel isotopes used, inclusive of the below.

  • Radiochemistry facilities
  • Research, new synthesis and radiochemistry
  • Pre-clinical, for PET, for nuclear medicine
  • GMP cell labelling
  • Multiple radioHPLC etc.
  • Radio LCMS
  • NMR
  • Chemical synthesis lab, molecular biology lab, histology lab
  • Radiopharmacy
  • Cyclotron (additional cyclotron being commissioned)
  • Radiobiology, tissue culture labs (Cat 1 & 2)
  • Adjacent to radiochemistry lab

  • All adjacent to chemistry facilities, animal procedure room and BSU core facility
  • NanoSPECT – Silver Upgrade (Mediso, Hungary)
  • Examples of Isotopes used: Tc-99m, I-125, I-123, I-131, In-111, Ga-67, Re-188
  • NanoScan PET/CT (Mediso, Hungary)
  • Examples of Isotopes used: F-18, Cu-64, C-11, N-13, Zr-89, Ga-68
  • IVIS Spectrum (Perkin Elmer)

  • Philips 3T MRI (a clinical research system used for pre-clinical imaging)
  • Hyperion IID PET-MRI (PET-MRI Insert for the 3T)
  • Bruker 9.4T Avance III – wide bore system for solution state NMR, perfused organ NMR/MRI, in vivo MRS/MRI
  • A range of imaging coils for 1H, and multinuclear 19F, 23Na, 31P, 13C
  • Hypersense DNP polarizer

Perinatal Imaging Department

The Perinatal Imaging Department has advanced MR imaging facilities within a dedicated MR imaging suite sited within the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St Thomas’ Hospital, as well as access to the other MRI systems Imaging Clinical Research Facility.

Key infrastructure includes:

  • 3T Philips Achieva MRI scanner for imaging neonates within the Evelina Newborn Imaging Centre (ENIC)
  • Bespoke 32 channel neonatal head coil with a dedicated positioning device allows scans at a much higher resolution than using a normal adult head coil which allows an increased signal to noise ratio (SNR) for accelerated scanning and improved motion correction techniques
  • Brain imaging system for neonates which is adapted for imaging preterm babies and for babies that need respiratory aids, such as ventilation
  • Bespoke heating mattress and a portable MR compatible ventilation system (Hamilton Ventilator) for transfer of babies from NICU to the MR Unit
  • Near infra-red spectrometer which allows researchers to measure oxygenation of the brain
  • A wireless in-vivo system that monitors neonates allowing measurement of heart rate, oxygen saturation levels, temperature and blood pressure. This integrated capability allows novel treatments defined by basic and translational neuroscientists to be tested in human infants using novel and well-qualified imaging biomarkers

King's College London and Guy’s & St Thomas’ PET Centre

Based in St Thomas’ Hospital, the PET Centre houses two cyclotrons which facilitates production of tracers for novel targets.

The centre also houses:

  • Simultaneous PET-MRs
  • High end PT-CTs
  • 1st PET kit agent for prostate cancer imaging developed and clinically translated at King's College London

Thanks to a robust infrastructure, in development are cutting-edge applications for PET-CT and PET-MR technology, including integrating PET-CT with radiotherapy planning, 4D PET-CT and motion correction.

The new Positron Emitting Radiopharmecutical Laboratory (PERL) is a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility with a total of 24 hot cells, connected to a PETtrace cyclotron for clinical use, and:

  • 2 FASTLab II
  • 2 KLAR dispensing units
  • 2 Trasis AIO units
  • 2 Tracerlab Units
  • 2 E&Z automated units
  • 3 Agilent HPLC and radioactive detector units
  • Various portable analytical chemistry equipment
  • 8 Dose Calibrators
  • 1 Gas Chromatography unit
  • Environmental Monitoring System
  • Building Management System

Manufacture of Active Implants and Surgical Instruments (MAISI)

MAISI is a new 120sqm facility for the Manufacture of Active Implants and Surgical Instruments, funded by the Wellcome Trust and embedded within St Thomas’ MedTech Hub at St Thomas’ Hospital. It will operate two Grade ISO-7 Cleanrooms within a certified QMS, with Grade ISO-5 Laminar Flow and Grade ISO-8 prep room. The facility is dedicated to the controlled manufacture of multi-modal invasive devices and active implants, for first use in human. 

  • Two micro-machining laser units offer flexibility to execute sophisticated parts in different materials (metals, polymers and ceramic)
  • Working area of 300 x 300 mm2, motion range of ± 100 mm, and equipped with high precision rotary chuck for small tubes (1.27 mm and a wall thickness of 0.15 mm)

  • Furnaces and oven for nitinol shape setting, annealing, tempering, ceramic sintering, firing, etc
  • Chamber size for high temperature (1,700 C) of 7.5 litres, and 15 litres for lower temperatures
  • RTP (Rapid Thermal Processing) furnace will has a chamber size of 0.42 litres

  • 3D printing system using SLS (Selective Laser Sintering)
  • SLM (Selective Laser Melting), SLA (Stereolithography)
  • 2PP (Two-Photon Polymerization) technologies
  • MAISI manufactures high-quality parts focusing our process in small sizes (maximum of 0.7 litres) using PA2200 Nylon and Ti64 titanium alloy

  • Micro-milling EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining) executes high precision and complex parts
  • The electrode removes material by spark erosion, drilling holes as small as 45 microns in diameter and as large as 3 mm, in a working area of 0.04 sqm (300 x 150 mm2)

  • Wide range of coating deposition system for both metals and organics/polymers
  • Sputter deposition, e-beam, thermal evaporation, electro-spray and spinning

  • A hydraulic hot press with a platen area of 200 x 200 mm2 will laminate HTCC and multilayer hybrids in a continuous temperature (maximum of 250 C)
  • Complete production on printed circuits is inside cleanroom grade ISO-7, including firing and sintering of ceramic components

Flexible and high-performance equipment Main equipment (semi-automatic):

  • Pick and place (populate discrete components)
  • Fine Placer System (populate with ICs)
  • Wire-bonder
  • Parallel gap welder
Smaller equipment/devices for manual operations:
  • Reflow oven
  • UV curing station
  • Soldering station
  • Heating plate

 

Imaging Chemistry & Biology 

Within the Imaging Chemistry & Biology department, the technical facilities include:

  • IVIS small animal optical tomography scanner
  • Small Animal Radiation Therapy with advanced precision; key features:
  • Designed to image, target and irradiate cells and small animals up to rats 
  • Cone-Beam CT and μCT automated image guidance 
  • Fully integrated Bioluminescence imaging module 
  • Pilot software suite, including Co-Pilot for multi-modal image 
  • SmART Advanced Treatment Planning (ATP) system 
  • Dedicated laboratories for research radiochemistry (including several radionuclide generators) 
  • Chemical synthesis and radioactive tissue culture and histology work 
  • Pre-clinical PET-CT, SPECT-CT and 9.4T NMR scanners are used for imaging and multinuclear NMR spectroscopy
  • A FACs Melody cell sorter facility are situated within a tissue culture lab. A Gamma Irradiation Facility is available for cell and pre-clinical work. 
  • Molecular biology and radioanalysis facilities, updated with a £1m Wellcome Multi-User Equipment Grant in 2019. This also includes mass spectrometer, multiple radioHPLC facilities and nanoparticle synthesis facilities. 

Our tissue perfusion rigs act as intermediate platforms between working with cells in culture and working in small animals in vivo. They allow us to bridge the translational gap between working in isolated cells (with maximal experimental control and opportunity for intervention, but of limited in vivo relevance) and the in vivo situation (with maximal clinical relevance, but limited opportunity for intervention and or/validation of mechanism and imaging agent specificity).

By perfusing isolated organs or whole tissues, we can characterise the structure-activity relationships and pharmacokinetics of novel imaging agents, and validate their specificity in an intact working (and in the case of the heart, beating) organ with an intact vasculature, under exquisite experimental control in terms of oxygenation, energy substrate delivery, pharmacologic intervention etc).

We have two custom-built perfusion rigs coupled to unique triple gamma detection arrays for evaluating and exploiting PET and SPECT imaging agents, and a third rig which allows tissue perfusion within the bore of our 9.4 T NMR magnet. While historically our work has focused on isolated perfused hearts, we are developing an ambitious program to translate the technology to isolated perfused tumours to allow us to study cancer, and develop cancer imaging approaches in an entirely new way.

 

Surgical & Interventional Engineering

Embedded within St. Thomas’ Hospital, the School’s Department of Surgical and Interventional Engineering feature bespoke facilities made possible by a £2M equipment support from the Wolfson Foundation and Wellcome Trust. 

State-of-the-art equipment sees advanced micromanufacturing facilities, a mock-operating theatre and optics laboratories. 

  • O-arm
  • Virtuose 6D master robots - Haption
  • Force Sensors and Communication interfaces, ATI
  • Computer Equipment and Accessories: 3XS Deep Learning DGX-1, SCAN
  • Wacom pen display, insight
  • Pulser receiver, Imaginant
  • Kinevo ZeissSurg Microscope, Zeiss
  • Digital microscope - Olympus
  • Axminster table top mill/drill
  • Axminster mitre saw
  • Axminster belt and disk sander
  • Spin coater, Scientific Laboratory Supplies
  • Sputter coater, Agar Scientific
  • Multi-purpose welder - RS Components
  • Dip Coater, biolin
  • GE Ultrasound, GE
  • Electropolishing/electroplating, Balco
  • T-Scan - Temperature control, T-Scan
  • Plastic laser cutter, One touch
  • Stacking trolley, LEEC
  • Karl Storz equipment, Karl Storz
  • Tissue fridges

 

The London Medical Imaging & Artificial Intelligence Centre for Value Based Healthcare

The London Artificial Intelligence ​Centre for Value Based Healthcare is ​a consortium of academic, NHS and​ industry partners led by King’s​ College London and based at Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. ​They work to develop, test and deploy AI systems​ across the NHS that provide effective patient​ screening, faster diagnosis, personalised therapies​ and non-invasive medical testing.​

Facilities will include: 

  • Federated Learning Interoperability Platform
  • AI Deployment Engine (AIDE) allows healthcare providers to deploy AI models safely, effectively and efficiently by enabling the integration of AI models into clinical workflows. It provides opportunities for machine learning to create clinical applications
  • AI-Enabled Scanners
  • High performance processors, NVIDIA DGX 2 train algorithms, with the computing power to process hundreds of thousands of images in minutes
  • XNAT, an open-source image informatics platform that ingests DICOM images from PACS, runs the Centre’s algorithms against automatically anonymised images safely
  • CogStack, used for information retrieval and extraction, can process data from multiple sources and applies Natural Language Processing to make sense of unstructured data and extract data from semantic information 

St Thomas’ MedTech Hub  

Led by King's School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences  and Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, St Thomas’ MedTech Hub accelerates translation of healthcare engineering research and improves provision of medical services to help deliver the best care to patients.   

St Thomas’ MedTech Hub is addressing the challenges of successful clinical translation by developing a multidisciplinary, collaborative ecosystem bringing together researchers, experts, clinicians and industry professionals.   

London Institute for Healthcare Engineering 

Embedded within St Thomas’ Hospital, the London Institute for Healthcare Engineering (LIHE) unites research, clinic and industry, facilitating end-to-end translation of novel healthcare technologies, ultimately pioneering accelerated clinical translation.   

Initial foci on key clinical challenges are on cancer, neurological, cardiovascular, ophthalmology, oral health and prenatal conditions. They have been selected for their high disease burden and potential for transformation through healthcare engineering.  

The Institute is part of the vision for St Thomas’ MedTech Hub and is a joint initiative led by King’s School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. 

 

16 Feb

Imaging of mice and humans

16 February 2021

A BHF Centre Technology Workshop with Professor Rene Botnar and Dr Alkystis Phinikaridou