The Unit's early success was a result of the foresight and energy of Professor Donald Longmore who originally set it up with a small team, which included Dr. David Firmin, the current Director of Physics. The many pioneering advances include: some of the earliest cardiac gated images, the accurate measurement of cardiac function, the accurate measurement of blood flow, early coronary artery imaging and coronary flow measurement, the development of rapid and interactive cardiovascular imaging, characterisation of atherosclerosis, and the measurement of myocardial perfusion. The Unit remains in the forefront of research, working within the academic environment of the Imperial College Medical School.
Under its current directorship of Professor Dudley Pennell the Unit is continuing in the development of CMR, with particular emphasis on clinical applications. The Unit has four scanners, comprising of one Siemens Skyra 3T in our joint NIHR funded cBRU, two Siemens Avanto Cardiac MR scanners, and one Siemens Aera Cardiac MR scanner fitted into a Bence Coachworks movable building.. Our previous mobile scanner which was designed and constructed by the group at the Unit to facilitate research into the early detection of vascular disease in asymptomatic subjects (CASPAR project), is on display at the Science Museum Large Objects Store,Swindon.
The CMR Unit has a unique mix of staff from medical and scientific backgrounds all with specialist expertise in imaging, and working in close collaboration with the Visual Information Processing (VIP) group of Imperial College. It is particularly well sited with excellent access to large numbers of patients with all forms of cardiovascular disease. It also collaborates with active programmes of clinical work and research, using techniques such as echocardiography, invasive angiography, nuclear cardiology and electron-beam computed tomography, all of which makes Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS FoundationTrust an ideal site to assess the comparative and incremental value of magnetic resonance in cardiovascular medicine.