University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Launches Neurological Imaging and Therapeutics Center

A multicolored rendering of a brainThe University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine today announced the launch of the Alba Tull Center for Neuro Imaging and Therapeutics. The center will be dedicated to designing and expanding imaging technologies for patient care to produce a new, sophisticated understanding of the brain at the molecular level with the goal of developing anti-aging therapeutics.

The Alba Tull Center for Neuro Imaging and Therapeutics is the result of a $1 million grant from the Tull Family Foundation, longtime supporters of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Among the center’s other priorities will be training physician-scientists in the imaging technologies’ uses and finding innovative methods to apply augmented reality (AR) to help guide surgeons’ hands.

About the foundation

The Tull Family Foundation (TFF) was founded by Thomas and Alba Tull to support organizations that are devoted to transforming the lives of the people in underserved and underfunded communities. A private foundation, TFF funds the advancement of innovative ideas in education, medical and scientific research, and conservation. In 2019, the foundation made a $1.5 million grant to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation to support pediatric research and art therapy programs.

“This gift enables a first-of-its-kind center for multidisciplinary collaboration to advance the fields of neuroscience, therapeutics and imaging,” said Dr. Anantha Shekhar, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. “This support from the Tull Family Foundation will expand and enhance the University’s already robust research in this field.”

“I am excited about the opportunity to advance our work in neuro AR, chemistry and personalized medicine, keeping us at the forefront of patient care and research breakthroughs,” said Robert Friedlander, MD, Walter E. Dandy Professor and chairman of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery and co-director of the UPMC Neurological Institute. Dr. Friedlander also highlighted the key role Joseph Maroon, MD, clinical professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, played in securing this important gift.The Alba Tull Center will encourage researchers to collaborate on leading cross-disciplinary projects exploring new frontiers in imaging technology and its applications. Work will include the development of a single, non-invasive scan, known as radiomics, that integrates multiple patient records to predict responses to therapies in order to help determine the best course of treatment. It will also enhance high-definition imaging of fiber connections in the brain to better fight tumors without damaging other tissue.

Alba Tull added, “The past year, more than ever, has underscored the power medicine has to change the world and the future. Supporting leading medical care and research is one of our priorities and this new center will enable scientific innovations from allowing physicians to examine a patient’s brain without making an incision to guiding surgeons’ hands in real-time when invasive treatment is the only option. We are proud to be able to support the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and look forward to continuing to work together.”

The University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurosurgery is the largest neurosurgical academic provider in the United States, with UPMC clinicians performing more than 12,000 procedures annually, and ranked among the top five neurosurgical residency programs in the country in terms of academic publishing output of faculty. The department is guided by three core goals: to provide outstanding care to patients with neurological disease; to equip neurosurgeons of the future with state-of-the-art techniques and analytical skills to lead the field of neurosurgery; and to foster research designed to enhance the treatment of diverse diseases affecting the nervous system.

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