Gov. Bob Riley began his speech at 2:19 p.m. at the groundbreaking ceremony of Auburn University's Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research Center, held at Auburn Research Park, Feb. 4.
The 45,000-square-foot MRI Research Center at Auburn Research Park will host technology never seen before in the U.S., said Riley.
There will be two MRI scanners used for clinical and research reasons.
One will be a Siemens 3 Tesla open-bore scanner.
The other will be a Siemens 7 Tesla whole-body scanner, which will be the first actively shielded 7T machine in the U.S.
A tesla refers to the power of the magnets.
Auburn is a tier one University, Auburn President Jay Gogue said. "We must remain the forefront of research and the forefront of cutting-edge technology. Siemens was chosen because they are probably the best scientific company in the world."
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Riley was at the White House yesterday, Feb. 3, with President Barack Obama discussing the U.S. economy.
Riley asked Obama such questions as: "What is going to be involved in the new economy? How are we going to compete with Asia, with Latin America? What are we going to do to be different?"
Riley said Obama responded with a smile on his face and said, "We have to do it through research."
East Alabama Medical
Clinic technicians, who will be operating both machines, will direct this research.
"This is not engineering for engineering's sake," said Charles McCrary, Auburn trustee and president and CEO of Alabama Power Company. "This is not about developing a product just to make a profit. This is about changing human capital, changing it in a way that it is going to improve this country and this state."
There will be research done on the new 7T scanner in the evening and on weekends while the 3T scanner will be clinically used in the EAMC clinic at Auburn Research Park.
"We have to develop the new products," Riley said. "We have to create the new demand. We have to develop something that no one else has."
Areas that medical researchers hope to gather more information about include Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, psychology and cognitive neuroscience, autism, heart disease and orthopedics.
"We want to improve human health one life at a time," said Jeffrey Bundy, vice president of Siemens Healthcare.
EAMC is known for its care in customer relations.
"Our focus is on cost, efficiency and primarily our quality of patient satisfaction," said Laura Grill, executive vice president and administrator for EAMC.
Other research will include coil design of the scanners, wireless technologies and spectroscopic imaging.
Auburn University, Siemens and EAMC are partnering together for this project, said Kori Caldwell, event facilitator for College of Engineering.
The facility is planned to be completed by Brasfield & Gorrie L.L.C. in September as the second fully-constructed building that will make up Auburn Research Park.
"I like the fact that they have selected us for this build," said Jeff Stone, president of Central Region of Brasfield & Gorrie. "Our company has a great depth in medical and office area construction. We do a lot of healthcare and office work as a company, so we are a natural fit for this job."
Brasfield & Gorrie L.L.C. got their building plans from Perkins + Will Architects.
"One of the things that is unique here, among research facilities, is this building will incorporate both research and clinical applications," said Gary Justice, senior project manager for Perkins + Will Architects.
Justice said this is a sustainable project and the main concept was getting the 3T and 7T scanners far enough away from each other to insure the integrity of the imaging from the two units.
Riley said Auburn is a growing community, and this facility is just what we need both in Auburn and in the state of Alabama.
"I don't know of anything that speaks to economic development any more than what (Auburn is) doing here today," Riley said.
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