MSU receives $6.7M grant, led by Dr. Anna Moore, to build large animal and human imaging facility to treat diseases

Michigan State University has been awarded a National Institutes of Health $6.7 million grant to build a new facility to develop new imaging agents and treatments for diseases, including cancer, that afflict both humans and large animals.

“The new Large Animal Facility for Imaging and Image-guided Therapies will be one of the few such medical diagnostic facilities in the world,” said project leader Anna Moore, assistant dean for the MSU College of Human Medicine and director of the Precision Health Program, adding: “This bridges our existing outstanding basic science and small animal imaging infrastructure, and our human imaging capabilities.”

The facility, expected to open on the East Lansing campus in 2024, “will accelerate the translation of our research in many diseases,” Moore said. “It will better link fundamental discoveries and clinical research — bench to bedside. This will foster innovation and scientific advances, creating new ways to diagnose and personalize the treatment of diseases with a real impact on human lives.”

The facility is part of a larger program in precision health that will lead to targeted therapies with image guidance.

The heart of the facility will be a highly sophisticated imaging scanner provided by Siemens Healthineers that combines two types of scanners, a PET, or positron emission tomography, with an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging. The investigators from MSU and other institutions will be able to make significant advances in diagnosis and treatment of many diseases, including those with the highest mortality rates — cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The technology will allow researchers to identify where a patient’s cancer has spread and then guide treatment to those locations using a combination of diagnostic and therapeutic compounds called “theranostics.”

In applying for the grant, MSU officials said the facility would overcome the many obstacles researchers now face in studying human and animal diseases, eventually fulfilling the promise of precision health “by shifting the paradigm from reactive to proactive and focusing on prediction, prevention and early detection.”

Once the facility equipped with the Siemens scanner is fully operational, Moore said, it will serve three purposes:

  • Research into human and animal diseases, many of which are similar across species.
  • Imaging of companion animals, such as dogs and cats, brought to the College of  Veterinary Medicine for treatment.
  • Provide human clinical trials of potential new imaging agents and therapies.

It also will allow MSU’s researchers and clinicians to join with other institutions in the quest for human health advancement as well as to teach basic science and medicine across the many colleges and departments at MSU, Moore said.

“It will foster collaboration between investigators at MSU and beyond,” she said, “because this facility will be one of a very few in the world.” Collaborators from Henry Ford Health System, McLaren Heath Care, Karmanos Cancer Center and other hospitals and academic institutions are looking forward to using this facility, she added.

The NIH approved the grant in September. The facility will be housed in Clinical Center Building D, which will undergo extensive renovation beginning in 2023. Moore said the project would not have been possible without the dedication of more than 30 people from throughout MSU, as well as the support of university administrators.

Already a leader in medical research, MSU is at the forefront of biomedical discoveries focusing on translating new therapies and imaging agents from bench discoveries to patients while training the next generation of biomedical scientists.

“This is the next step,” Moore said. “We’re looking forward to improving health outcomes in Michigan and beyond.”