Binghamton University’s Brain and Body Imaging Research Center is awaiting approval to purchase Magnetic Resonance Imaging Equipment (MRI).

The Brain and Body Imaging Research Center, along with United Health Services (UHS), is hoping to purchase a $3.81 million MRI scanner — the most advanced scanner available in upstate New York. According to the Brain and Body Research Imaging Center’s webpage, the scanner is equipped for both medical and research use, making it the first of its kind in New York’s Southern Tier. Funding for its purchase comes from both the Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science and UHS, which have supported a seed grant program to fund collaborative research projects.

If BU and UHS are given approval to move forward by the NYS Department of Health, the MRI will be kept in the radiology wing of UHS Vestal.

J. David Jentsch, director of the Brain and Body Imaging Research Center and professor of psychology at BU, is expecting the Center to be open in 2023, alongside the scanner.

“As such, we do not yet have a formal kickoff date for the Center, though it remains in our hope and expectation that it will be open in 2023,” Jentsch wrote in an email. “The [Brain and Body Imaging Research] Center is a jointly supported resource, with each party contributing to its operations. BU is the party that purchased the scanner itself.”

According to the Center’s webpage, the scanner will make more research possibilities available to the University. The department of psychology is now looking for more professors to potentially join and further research using the MRI scanner, according to Jentsch.

“We expect to hire new faculty who will use it in their research,” Jentsch wrote. “In fact, our first such faculty member, Dr. Stefania Conte, joins the department of psychology in January 2023. She uses MRI to study the development of face processing, a critical feature of human social relationships, in infants. Multiple other faculty searches in the human neuroscience area are ongoing now, or will be initiated in the near future.”

The Center will leverage the talent and resources of BU and UHS to spur innovative research and health care, as described in a media and public relations presentation. According to the Center’s webpage, the proposed MRI scanner can diagnose and treat serious medical complications such as breast cancer, strokes and cardiovascular disease. With this equipment, students will become familiar with neuroscience techniques before entering a professional field.

Gayathri Nair, a junior majoring in neuroscience, hopes the new addition to the science department will further promote ethical research and medical practices, as well as raise more awareness for mental health diagnosis and treatment.

“The one great thing about MRIs and imaging devices is the noninvasive way of diagnosing people,” Nair said. “For people with seizures or blood aneurysms, you can’t tell otherwise with just physical exams. MRIs are a great way of accounting for that problem in the medical field. There’s also more awareness of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. MRIs can be used for neuroimaging that helps you find ‘markers’ that correlate with depression and anxiety, so I think research in that field is necessary.”

Emily Decker, a sophomore majoring in biology, expressed how this investment puts BU ahead of other schools in her eyes. Decker said this new addition to the department would influence her decision of staying at BU to pursue graduate school.

“I was really excited to hear about the Center,” Decker said. “It’s definitely influential when it comes time to actually decide where I want to go, and what I want to do after undergrad. If I don’t want to move further from home and Binghamton has opportunities that other schools around here don’t, then yeah, it definitely makes a big difference when it comes to that.”