A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a part of the National Institutes of Health, said it will provide $20.65 million for 14 High-End Instrumentation (HEI) grants that will fund cutting-edge equipment required to advance biomedical research. Awarded to research institutions around the country, the one-time grants support the purchase of instruments costing more than $750,000, the organization said.

"These high-performance imaging instruments and other advanced technologies enable both basic discoveries that shed light on the underlying causes of disease and the development of novel therapies to treat them," said Barbara Alving, MD, NCRR director. "The value of this investment in advanced equipment is greatly leveraged because each of these rare tools is used by a number of investigators, advancing a broad range of research projects."

The 14 awards in this round of funding will enable the purchase of a variety of instrumentation at institutions nationwide. For example, Vanderbilt University (Nashville) will acquire a 7 Tesla human MRI and spectroscopy system, which provides the highest magnetic imaging available for humans and is one of only several such instruments in the country. With its award, the University of Texas Health Sciences Center (San Antonio) will obtain a high-field 9.4 Tesla MRI scanner capable of performing such demanding studies as functional brain and cardiac imaging in a variety of animal species.

Another award will support the University of California (San Diego), in its purchase of a high-performance, intermediate voltage transmission electron microscope to enable 3-D imaging of sections of cells and biological tissues. Also funded is a confocal imaging system at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (Baltimore), to enable the study of calcium signaling in living cells, as well as investigations involving neuronal and brain slice imaging.

At the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (Madison), positron emission tomography tracer development and production equipment will be purchased to facilitate research involving cancer, neuroscience, cardiovascular, and regenerative medicine. Finally, new state-of-the-art DNA sequencing instrumentation will be acquired by Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut), to assist investigations involving epilepsy, psychiatric disorders, autism, cardiovascular disorders, and cancer.

In order to qualify for a HEI award, institutions must identify three or more NIH-funded investigators whose research requires the requested instrument. Matching funds are not required for these grants, which provide a maximum of $2 million each. However, institutions are expected to provide an appropriate level of support for associated infrastructure, such as building alterations or renovations, technical personnel, and post-award service contracts for instrument maintenance and operation.

NCRR provides laboratory scientists and clinical researchers with the environments and tools they need to understand, detect, treat, and prevent a wide range of diseases.

In contract news: Agresso (Sliedrecht, the Netherlands) reported that it has extended its string of software and services contracts valued in the millions of dollars with a $2.5 million deal with Landauer (Glenwood, Illinois), a provider of technical and analytical services to determine occupational and environmental radiation exposure.

Landauer selected Keane, a $1 billion-plus global services firm that specializes in enabling transformation of its clients' business and IT functions, as its transformation partner and program management office. Keane oversees its entire engagement and its numerous partners, including Agresso, providing a single point of accountability for Landauer. Together they initiated a program to re-engineer Landauer's business processes and help transform their customer-facing systems.

"Agresso presented a unique combination of core functionality and custom development capabilities that were necessary to meet our project requirements," said Jonathon Singer, CFO at Landauer. "We could not make this shift under our current deadlines without Agresso's change-oriented architecture. Its implementation is fundamental to supporting the major goals for this project: improve customer service, accelerate our time-to-market with new product or service introductions, improve productivity and increase cash flow." Agresso's architectural platform is directed at businesses like Landauer that need ongoing agility in their enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.

Landauer has purchased a suite of Agresso Business World modules, including general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, fixed asset, purchasing, workflow procurement, inventory management, reporting and analysis, etc. The deal includes software, services, development and maintenance, and was bid out to other vendors that did not provide the comprehensive solution proposed by Agresso. Keane managed the entire selection process.

"It is one thing for Agresso to continually tout the absolutely clear differences between our post-implementation-agility focused platform - and quite another for that platform to be scrutinized and validated through an extensive process by the Landauer-Keane team," said Shelley Zapp, president, Agresso - North America. "Agresso is 100% dedicated to organizations like Landauer focused on BLINC - Businesses Living in Change."