UBBMed (School of Health) created the most advanced biomedical imaging platform in Romania and one of the most advanced internationally

Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca (UBB) completed the first phase in the organization of the INSPIRE Platform, the most advanced biomedical imaging facility in Eastern Europe and one of the most advanced internationally (InfoBioNano4Health & Biomedical Imagining – INSPIRE – https://inspire.research.ubbcluj.ro/). The INSPIRE platform is one of the leading units supporting the new UBBMed under the UBB School of Health (https://www.ubbcluj.ro/ro/facultati/school_of_health ).

The INSPIRE platform is the result of a long-standing collaboration between two UBB reference institutes, namely the Institute for Advanced Studies in Psychotherapy and Applied Mental Health (Institute of Mental Health – https://psychotherapy.psiedu.ubbcluj.ro/ ) and the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research in Bio-Nano-Sciences (Institute of Bio-Nano-Sciences – http://icibns.institute.ubbcluj.ro/en/), in major infrastructure projects (initially the RICI project and more recently the INSPIRE project), to which other specific projects have been added.

The INSPIRE platform currently comprises three research-development-innovation centers, each with a number of laboratories endowed with state-of-the-art equipment, which will support advanced research, quality education, and innovative services: (1) the BrainQ platform (Clinical MRI Centre), with exceptional facilities (e.g. 3 and 7 Tesla) for clinical biomedical imaging, including EEG systems, coupled with complementary virtual reality systems and an advanced artificial intelligence and data analysis laboratory (part of the Institute of Mental Health);

(2) The Preclinical MRI Centre, in its turn with exceptional facilities (7 and 11.6 Tesla) (part of the Institute of Bio-Nano-Sciences);

(3) The Centre for Contrast and Therapeutic Agents (part of the Institute of Bio-Nano-Science). The INSPIRE platform is currently operating in the testing phase – with the completion of human resource preparation and training, including the finishing of the new building – and has already attracted several major projects, such as (selection):

(1) A Multimodal Brain Connectivity Marker for the Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease;

Director: Joana Braga Pereira, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

(2) Neural mechanisms of trauma-related psychopathology in high-risk populations: A multi-method and prospective investigation into the roles of social-affective and social-cognitive processes;

Director: Philipp Kanske, TU Dresden.

(3) Enhancing cognitive-behavioral therapy by neuroscience: Novel approaches to understand treatment response for anxiety and depressive disorders in adolescents;

Director: Kristoffer Månsson, Karolinska Institute Stockholm, Sweden (https://www.neuro4c.eu/cluj-napoca).

(4) Also, the recently created national network RoMentalHealth will also have strategic access on the INSPIRE platform (https://news.ubbcluj.ro/ubb-initiaza-reteaua-interdisciplinara-pentru-studiul-complex-si-multinivelar-al-sanatatii-mintale/)

The public launch of the INSPIRE Platform will take place between 20 and 24 May 2024, with the participation of U.S.A. strategic partners (e.g., Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Harvard Medical School – https://www.martinos.org/) and in Europe (e.g. medical schools in the EUTOPIA university alliance – https://eutopia-university.eu/), as well as other relevant guests/partners (e.g. from the University of Vienna/Vienna Medical University, etc.), including the EIT Health Representation in Romania. European, national, and local authorities have also confirmed their participation.

Prof. dr. Daniel David, the coordinator of the BrainQ Platform, declares that “it is now the most advanced biomedical imaging platform from Poland to China (probably even in Eastern Europe) and one of the most complex internationally. But the key element is the human resource, which, by bringing together leading researchers from home and abroad on such an advanced infrastructure, puts Romania on the map of biomedical research, so

far mainly in the area of (1) neurosciences (e.g. clinical neurosciences; cognitive neurosciences; mental disorders; mental illnesses associated with ageing, etc.) and (2) non-communicable diseases in general (here in close collaboration with the National Competence Centre for a Healthy Lifestyle – co-founded by the Romanian Academy and UBBMed – https://healthylifestyle.research.ubbcluj.ro/), initially in psycho-oncology (here in close collaboration with the Centre for a Complex and Multidisciplinary Approach to Cancer – co-founded by the Institute of Oncology in Cluj-Napoca and UBBMed – https://oncology.research.ubbcluj.ro/). It is a model of how major investments should be made in the area where there are already serious previous achievements and quality human resources because this is the only way we can put Romania competitively on the international academic map and contribute to reducing the discrepancies between Eastern and Western Europe.”.

Prof. dr. Simion Simon, director of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research in Bio-Nano-sciences and the initial manager of the INSPIRE project, declared that “the major advantage of the INSPIRE project was and is the complementarity and scientific strength of the groups involved, a model validated within the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research in Bio-Nano-Sciences. Alongside the groups that were at the basis of its foundation, namely the schools of clinical psychology and magnetic resonance, the project succeeds in bringing together other schools, such as molecular biology and biochemistry, respectively informatics applied in medical data processing, all elite scientific fields with significant contributions to the international prestige of UBB.”

UBBMed was launched recently, strategically covering three clinical areas (1. mental health; 2. non-communicable diseases – initially mainly cancer -; and 3. public health), along with other more specific medical conditions (depending on the existing projects) and two strategic cross-cutting approaches (1. medical engineering & technology and 2. ethics & the psychosociology of medicine), together with other more specific interdisciplinary approaches. Three academic units have been developed so far within UBBMed to support the strategic areas: (1) the BrainQ Platform (https://psychotherapy.psiedu.ubbcluj.ro/center-for-biomedical-imagining-and-integrative-medicine/) – in relation to mental health; (2) the

National Competence Centre for Healthy Lifestyle (https://healthylifestyle.research.ubbcluj.ro/) – particularly in relation to public health and non-communicable diseases, and (3) the Multidisciplinary Center for Comprehensive Cancer Research and Treatment – in relation to oncology (https://oncology.research.ubbcluj.ro/). Moreover, the INSPIRE Platform (- https://inspire.research.ubbcluj.ro/) and the Center for the Prevention of Covid-19 and other Communicable Diseases (https://news.ubbcluj.ro/ubb-infiinteaza-centrul-de-preventie-covid-19-si-alte-boli-infectioase-in-cadrul-programului-ubbmed/ ) both support clinical and other more specific areas. Summing up, these developments these developments have so far committed projects of research-development-innovation and scientific infrastructure totaling approximately 25,000,000 EUR.