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NEWS ROUNDUP: Leeds pioneering MRI research


09/06/21 | Leeds local news | The Leeds Children’s Hospital’s Congenital Heart Unit is the first in the United Kingdom to undertake pioneering MRI research addressing challenges in the diagnosis and monitoring of infants with congenital heart disease.

The project aims to establish a new approach to imaging these patients by using a 4D Flow MRI prototype software from Siemens Healthineers, reducing scan time to under ten minutes whilst infants sleep in an MRI safe incubator.

Congenital heart disease is one of the most common types of birth defect and whilst survival rates have improved, diagnosis and imaging of newborns can be challenging. Traditionally, CT imaging has often been preferred over MRI, due to reduced acoustic noise and faster scan times, while MRI has necessitated breath holds and patient sedation with the associated risk to infants. The use of CT however, requires X-rays and produces a less comprehensive dataset than MRI. The University of Leeds project pushes the boundaries of 4D Flow and cardiac MRI to establish an approach which could provide greater data at a high speed and transform the way imaging is performed on infants.

Acquiring a full set of MRI images which provide both anatomical and functional information, can take up to an hour, however, with the application of the 4D Flow technology from Siemens Healthineers, the project aims to achieve this in under ten minutes. 4D Flow provides a comprehensive, non-invasive assessment of the heart in just one acquisition, allowing paediatric cardiologists greater insight with potential to predict which patients may need surgery in the future.

Donations led by Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, including Heart Research UK and other generous funders have helped to equip the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit with innovations designed to optimise scanning infants. The new equipment includes an MRI coil and an MRI safe closed incubator, which reduces the noise the infant is exposed to, allowing scans to take place as the baby sleeps in a safe and comfortable environment – supporting improved diagnostic outcomes.

“The research we are currently undertaking makes the University of Leeds the first in the UK to scan babies with congenital heart disease this way,” states Dr Malenka Bissell, Clinical Lecturer of Paediatric Cardiology at the University of Leeds and Consultant at Leeds Children’s Hospital. “In combination with the equipment funded by the charity, 4D Flow MRI technology is paving the way to improve diagnostic pathways for these patients. Uncertainty can be one of the most stressful elements for parents, so we’re now looking at how we can use advanced imaging methods to improve our ability to predict when and if a patient will need surgery.”

“4D Flow MRI is an exciting advancement, offering the ability to measure and visualise the temporal evolution of complex vascular systems,” states Dr Craig Buckley, Head of Research and Scientific Collaborations at Siemens Healthineers GB&I. “We are pleased to support Leeds with its research and further evaluate the potential of this model to translate into real-world application. Not only could this make for a safer experience for infants, but 4D Flow acquisition has the potential to enhance anatomical imaging, providing the clinician with a much better dataset to help inform diagnosis and treatment.”

James Oliver, Congenital Cardiologist and Children’s Heart Surgery Fund Trustee adds: "This exciting new equipment is revolutionising congenital cardiac MRI. For the first time, even our youngest congenital patients can benefit from important research into improving early diagnosis."

Kate Bratt-Farrar, Chief Executive at Heart Research UK said: “We are so thrilled to be supporting this pioneering research, which will make Leeds one of the true centres of excellence for this type of procedure. As a Leeds-based charity, we’re passionate about supporting our local area, and about funding projects that bring about tangible benefits for patients. By reducing risks associated with traditional imaging methods and increasing diagnostic accuracy, this project will have a real effect on how capable we are of providing better care to patients, in this case often very unwell babies.”



The British Library has announced a major expansion of its highly successful network of library-based Business & IP Centres (BIPCs) to regional and local libraries across England, including in Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield.

Following last year’s pledge of £13 million in Treasury funding towards the expansion, Leeds Libraries has been allocated £252,000 to equip four local libraries across the region with Business & IP Centre spaces, resources and services by 2023, building on the popular support already available through Leeds Libraries.

This is a major boost for anyone who has recently launched or is looking to start their own business and the roll out will help anyone to grow their own business in West Yorkshire. A range of free support and resources, such as up-to-date market research and business databases, will be available for residents at their local Business & IP Centres in Bradford, Halifax and Wakefield from July, and will also be available in Kirklees later this year.

Business & IP Centres can open up the path to entrepreneurship for anyone with a business idea, regardless of their background. The Business & IP Centre Leeds has a strong track record of supporting local people to start, protect and grow successful small businesses and has helped to create over 1,000 new start-ups since 2016.

Across the national network, over half of those who use a BIPC to set up a business are women and a third are from under-represented backgrounds.

Accessible support offered through the BIPC has been invaluable for small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. In a recent survey, 23% of BIPC users said that the service had helped them gain confidence and resilience to steer their business through the pandemic. Over 3,600 business owners across the UK have attended events as part of Reset. Restart, an emergency online programme launched by the British Library last year to provide new skills and resilience to all SMEs during the pandemic.

Councillor Mary Harland, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Communities, said:

“I’m delighted that Leeds is partnering with libraries in Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield to support even more people across West Yorkshire to develop the skills they need to start and grow their own business.

“I’d encourage anyone who has thought about starting their own business to get in touch with their local centre to find out how to successfully launch and protect their business ideas.”

Liz Jolly, Chief Librarian at the British Library, said:

“At their heart, libraries are trusted spaces with professional staff who have a mission to connect people with information. From Glasgow to Brighton, our BIPC Network harnesses the power of libraries, bringing in expertise from the local community to help people from all walks of life turn an idea into a successful business.

"We’re delighted to mark this next chapter in the Network’s journey, growing from 14 to over 100 new regional and local Centres across England, with a longer-term ambition to expand across the UK. Our mission is to put business support in every library, but we’re also learning lessons from the past year, by making sure more and more of our business and IP workshops, events and 1-1s are open to everyone online.”

Culture Minister, Caroline Dinenage, said:

"It is brilliant that small businesses and entrepreneurs will now be able to access invaluable support and resources in more parts of the country than ever before. I'm delighted that, thanks to our £13 million investment in the British Library's Business & IP Centres, this important network is growing from strength to strength.”

Find out more about the Business & IP Centre Leeds and visit your local centre across the region by visiting www.leeds.gov.uk/bipcleeds.



The main Leeds West Indian Carnival parade in August has been cancelled for the second year running but a virtual carnival day will take place on Monday the 30th of August.

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