Released By: Australian Synchrotron
Release Date: Tue 28 April 2009

Facilities to enable research into faster detection and improved treatment of cancer will be significantly enhanced at the new Imaging and Medical facility (IM) at the Australian Synchrotron.

Construction of a major expansion to the IM facility is underway thanks to a $13.2 million grant from the NH&MRC to fund additional research instruments, laboratories and clinical facilities. A further $1.5 million from the Victorian Government will contribute to the building extension that will house the equipment.

Researchers will use the facility for high resolution imaging of tissue, including the identification of tumours. Ultimately, researchers aim to use the facility for single cell imaging and tracking. This will shine light on the biochemical and biomedical processes involved in cancer development and many other diseases.

" Standard hospital X-ray imaging and CT cannot see things much smaller than 0.5 mm " says Daniel Hausermann, Imaging and Medical Beamline Scientist at the Australian Synchrotron. " With this facility, we are aiming to see 10 to 50 times smaller. The more we can see, the more we can understand how tumours grow and develop".

 "The expanded facility will be the most advanced instrument of its type in the world. It will bring together pioneering synchrotron researchers, biomedical researchers and medical practitioners. Together, they will advance research in significant health areas such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases"  says Daniel.


Research using the IMBL will place Australia at the cutting edge to take these new technologies into real clinical environments and ultimately, improve health outcomes for Australians.

Among the projects planned for the facility are:

  • High resolution imaging of cells and tissues, from detailed examinations of tumours to the fine structural details of lungs;
  • Tracking studies to follow the movements of cells labelled with small marker particles through tissues and organs in real time;
  • Research in the interaction of radiation with cancer and healthy cells to improve the prescription of radiotherapy treatments.

 "This is going to be a huge enabling tool for both the research and clinical communities. It's going to change the way we detect and treat disease, especially cancer, and give us unique insights into physiology and general functions of the body,"  says Ian Smith, Deputy Dean of Research in Monash University's Faculty of Medicine.
Smith led the funding application initiative on behalf of a consortium of research associations and users.
He praised Australia's biomedical and medical research community for their strong support of the facility.

Professor Robert Lamb, Director of the Australian Synchrotron said the enhancements will make a significant impact on health research in Australia. "This will enable us to see much more than ever before. With existing imaging technology, scientists cannot see the early signs of tumour formation. With this new Synchrotron-based technology, minute changes in tissue development will become visible. It is like going from a grainy black and white television to a 3-D high resolution flat screen! "

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