7T MRI Facility

A 7T MRI has the ability of creating images with higher contrast, better resolution, and in shorter scan times when compared to a 3T device. Greater image quality enables the study of neuronal function at the submillimeter scale and ultra-high resolution fMRI in both animal models and human subjects.

The 7T MRI will be part of the Toronto Western Hospital’s Krembil Neuroscience Centre, a world leader in neurology, and completes the localized repertoire neuroimaging modalities to enable seamless study of subjects.

Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Laboratory

radiochemistry-lab-cyclotron1The Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Laboratory was first envisioned by the University Health Network’s Regenerative Medicine (REMEDI) Project as a means to obtain their objectives of (i) LABELLING, (ii) IMAGING, (iii) VISUALIZATION, and (iv) GUIDED DELIVERY of cell, gene and protein therapy. By having the on-site ability to produce customizable radiotracers, the physical constraints of short-lived radioisotopes and inaccessibility of these radioisotopes is eliminated, and the functional imaging capabilities of PET can fully exploited. The Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Lab will be built in the Clinical Services Building at the Toronto General Hospital, and will be a local resource for novel radioisotopes. It will also provide full proteomics support. The facility will not only fulfill the objectives of the REMEDI project but will be a resource for all biomedical research requiring such agents.

Progress Updates

1The UHN Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Facility is located in the basement of Toronto General Hospital.

The University Health Network is operating its PETtrace 880 cyclotron, pictured above during maintenance, to accelerate particles and produce radioisotopes for nuclear imaging techniques. The radioisotopes are incorporated into various positron-emitting radiopharmaceuticals that are administered for PET/CT or PET/MRI imaging applications used for various cardiology, neurology, and oncology applications.


Left: Plane of the proton/deuteron beam that is initially generated from the cyclotron ion source in the centre of the magnet.

Right: Hydrogen gas exits the slit of the ion source and forms a plasma, from which hydride ions are extracted and accelerated in the cyclotron. The other side of the ion source (not shown) is for deuteride extraction.

4R&D Development Space in the Facility that contains hot cells/manipulator arms and additional fumehood space.


The Clean Room is where radiopharmaceuticals are synthesized and dispensed. The radiopharmaceuticals, manufactured according to cGMP, are produced at UHN through CanProbe. CanProbe is a joint partnership between UHN and the Center for Probe Development and Commercialization.

Featured in the Toronto Star:

Toronto cyclotron set to spur leap in nuclear medicine
University Health Network’s cyclotron creates new era in production of medical isotopes

Starting with a blank canvas the construction of the new cyclotron/radiopharmacy facility has been a huge project and it is now nearing completion. We are right on target to be producing radioisotopes for clinical trials by the end of 2013. The cyclotron was delivered in September 2012 and the hot cells arrived in December 2012. They are awaiting installation following completion of the facility. It is anticipated that commissioning of the entire facility will begin in April.


General Electric Awarded Contract for Cyclotron Procurement
A new 4600 sq ft cyclotron radiochemistry lab is being constructed in the basement of theToronto General Hospital of the University Health Network. The facility is co-funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation through the Ride to Conquer Cancer program. As part of the Techna Network, the facility will be a great asset for the research and clinical agendas, permitting rapid access to radioisotopes and studies of new radiopharmaceuticals. The facility will be managed in-part by CanProbe, a joint not-for-profit venture of the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC) and the University Health Network.

General Electric has won the contract to supply the cyclotron. Construction will be carried out by Ira McDonald Construction Ltd. in partnership with H&H Design Build.

GTx Laboratory

The guided therapeutics laboratory, located on the 7th floor of the Toronto Medical Discovery Tower, is a collaborative space that combines innovative science and technology to catalyze new image guided applications. The multi-disciplinary environment enables rapid prototyping and translation of applications from preclinical to clinical stage under scientific, engineering, and clinical expertise. There applications integrate technologies such as computer vision, computer graphics, augmented reality, multi-modality imaging, molecular agents, navigation, and robotics. Clinical application domains include head and neck surgery, thoracic surgery, orthopedic surgery, radiation therapy, and intervention radiology.



GTx OR (Guided Therapeutics Operating Room) is a dedicated research OR located within the existing Toronto General Hospital surgical hub for cost-effective support/integration and is equipped with image-based surgical navigation technologies (x-ray and optical navigation; visualization). This advanced OR is designed to ensure the rapid implementation of novel of image guided technologies for the benefit of patients. The GTx OR is the first facility in the world that has a dual energy Siemens Definition FLASH CT scanner and a state-of-the-art robotic C-arm, the Siemens Artis Zeego, within the same OR.

Progress Updates

The Guided Therapeutics Operating Room (GTx-OR) had its unofficial grand opening on January 24th, 2013. Donors to the GTx program at The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre were invited to view this exciting new OR; designed to translate novel devices developed for surgical guidance to treat patients. Joining these special guests were UHN leadership and all of those who played a role in developing this innovative program. Speakers included Dr. Jonathan Irish, Paul Alofs (President and CEO of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation), Dr. Shaf Keshavjee (Surgeon-in-Chief, UHN), Dr. Robert Bell (CEO, UHN) , and Dr. Mary Gospodarowicz (Medical Director, The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre/UHN). Donors were given a tour of the GTx-OR that was led by Dr. Irish, Dr. Yasufuku, Dr. Weersink and Michael Daly. Dr. Irish wanted people to leave saying “WOW” and they truly did.


Healthcare Human Factors

Healthcare Human Factors is the largest Human Factors team dedicated to healthcare internationally. Acting as consultants, researchers, designers and evaluators, we are setting standards and developing best practices for human factors inhealthcare, leading cultural change and making an impact locally and worldwide. We employ user-centered design methods and our deep understanding of the medical field to create impact in research, design and evaluation.

Located within one of the largest academic health science centres in the world at University Health Network, we are embedded in the healthcare setting with access to clinical users and patients that we design, test and create for. We have state-of-the-art usability testing facilities geared for healthcare and attract private and public sector clients including hospitals, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), Ontario Medical Association (OMA) and Canada Health Infoway (CHI)

Our mission is to improve healthcare for people through safe, usable and effective technologies and processes.

Our vision is a healthcare system that at every stage in its process is informed by human factors principles.


Machine Shops

Techna has access to multiple machine shops all within the downtown core at the University of Toronto’s Department of Mechanical Engineering (MC-78), Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, and the Princess Margaret Hospital. These shops can design and build parts from plastics, aluminum, stainless steel, carbon fiber, sheet metal, and wood. There is also expertise in welding steel, stainless steel and aluminum.

Niche machines at these shops include:

At the MC-78:
-pluge EDM
-Wire EDM

FDM 3d printer:

SLA3d printer:
-3d scanner
-5 axis milling machine
-plasma cutter



The Magnetoencephalography (MEG) Facility will give neuroscientists and neurosurgeons the opportunity to non-invasively measure the magnetic fields generated by small intracellular electrical currents in neurons. It provides direct information about the dynamics of spontaneous and evoked neural activity and the location of their sources, thus enabling the identification of temporal profiles of cortical activity within millimeter resolution. MEG is highly complementary to MRI as it provides vital information of ‘when’ brain activity occurs while MRI supplies information about ‘where’ the activity occurs and the structure and anatomical connections of the brain. Located at the Toronto Western Hospital’s Krembil Neuroscience Centre, the MEG facility is expected to be operational in early 2014.


OpenLab at UHN, located at Toronto General Hospital, is a multi-disciplinary service design and innovation centre dedicated to developing solutions to complex problems that improve both the process and experience of care. OpenLab brings together patients, clinicians, engineers, social scientists, designers and business people to understand health system issues from multiple perspectives. It uses design thinking to uncover the needs, behaviors and desires of users, and develops solutions that stress real-world effectiveness, adoption and sustainability.

PET/MR Facility

The PET/MR Facility features a whole-body PET camera inside a high-field 3T MRI system, located in the basement of Toronto General Hospital. Whole-body PET/MR will enable the study of metabolism and pathophysiology at the molecular level with simultaneous spatial localization of metabolites, taking advantage of MR imaging’s superior soft-tissue contrast capabilities.


MRgRT Facility

The Magnetic Resonance guided Radiation Therapy (MRgRT) suite consists of a full strength (1.5 T) open bore MR imaging device on rails that will move between a linear accelerator and a High Dose Rate (HDR) brachytherapy suite. MR imaging can be achieved at the time of intervention with minimum disruption to the patient and interventional team. In addition, the MRgRT suite will enable the development of small robotic devices and intraoperative human interfaces for directing the intervention within the MR. This unique suite represents a major infrastructure enhancement as it will overcome current limitations in contrast performance of present cone-beam CT systems which are a limiting factor in targeting precision. MR-guided localization, motion assessment, targeting and monitoring of disease and normal structures can be completed at an unprecedented level of precision and accuracy. The technological advancements that will be achieved in this suite–when developed in concert with clinician scientists–promise to advance the practice of surgery and radiation therapies.

Progress Updates

We have reached several major milestones this year!

Our most recent advancements in the MRgRT facility include:

Facility construction complete.
MR safety plan complete, including; safety training plan, safety charter and safety governance. A tremendous amount of preparation has been undertaken to ensure that safety is designed and built into the facility and the operating procedures. Both MRI safety concerns and radiation safety concerns need to be taken into consideration.
For a sneak peek inside the MRgRT facility check out Drs. David Jaffray and Michael Milosevic on CTV news:


(Click on the Logo to watch the video)
and the University of Toronto’s Department of Radiation Oncology YouTube channel:

MR-Guided High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy

We officially completed construction of the HDR Brachytherapy Suite (below) on February 6, 2013. The HDR afterloader (treatment machine) has been installed and commissioned and we are happy to report that the first HDR brachytherapy patient was treated in the MRgRT facility without MR-image guidance on June 9th, 2014.


MR-Guided External Beam (Linear Accelerator/Linac) Radiation Delivery

The external beam MRgRT Suite consists of:

  • A Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator for radiation treatment;
  • The MR on rails which moves in and out of the suite;
  • A novel robotic couch that can move between the MRI and treatment unit.

We continue to explore solutions to address the new challenges stemming from the addition of MRI and its clinical integration into the radiation treatment workflow. We are currently working on various engineering and research questions while awaiting Health Canada approval for this novel equipment.
Challenges being addressed include:

  • Motion accuracy and precision of the MR and linac systems (MRI, linac, and treatment couch) in order to ensure the most accurate patient treatment;
  • linical use and long-term performance of the MR imaging coils in a radiotherapy environment;
  • MR imaging optimization to ensure we receive the best possible images for patients undergoing treatment in the suite.

MRgRT-Phase2-OPTION3The Future Outlook of MRgRT
In the upcoming months, we will launch the MR simulation stream, followed by MRI- guided brachytherapy procedures and interventions.

The future landscape of this technology will prove to be an exciting advancement to patient care. With the technology nearing readiness for patient treatment our focus will move towards building a strong clinical program while still furthering technological development.

Phase I of the MRgRT Suite is now complete!
Construction of the High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy Suite was officially completed on February 6, 2013. The HDR device has been installed and is now undergoing commissioning tests. The new suite will be ready to treat brachytherapy patients on March 8, 2013. Construction is still ongoing for Phase II of the MRgRT Suite. The magnet for the imager has been installed and the linear accelerator suite will be ready for testing in May. Real-time MRI during radiation therapy is one step closer to becoming a reality at UHN.


MRgRT Breaks Ground.
The hoarding is up! Construction of the Magnetic Resonance guided Radiation Therapy (MRgRT) suite has begun.   This innovative suite, the first in the world, will merge the imaging capabilities of a MRI supplied by IMRIS with advanced radiation therapy devices from Varian and Nucletron; creating a unique environment to fast track the development and integration of guided therapeutic devices, techniques, and procedures.


NanoMed Fab Facility

The NanoMed Fab Facility sets itself apart from any other facility within Canada by going beyond developing nanotechnology at a fundamental level.  The NanoMed core is interested in the full spectrum of nanotechnology research and development including nanoparticle fabrication, characterization, evaluation modules and a targeting ligand synthesis all with a distinct focus on biomedical applications.  The NanoMedFab facility, co-led by Drs. Gang Zheng and Warren Chan, is a nanoparticle-focused Good Manufacture Production (GMP) facility unique in Canada.  Located on the first floor of the Max Bell Research Building at the University Health Network in collaboration with the University of Toronto, this 2200 ft2 facility is a crucial component for translational research.  It will fill the gap between fabricating nanoparticles for preclinical research and agents suitable for first-in-human trials.


The STTARR Innovation Centre, located on the 7th floor of the MaRS tower in Toronto’s Medical Discovery District, is an innovative research facility covering over 21,000 square feet (www.sttarr.ca). STTARR is the only imaging centre in the world providing state-of-the-art imaging technology for cellular studies at the level of DNA and proteins, multi-modality imaging of pre-clinical models as well as a correlative pathology lab in an integrated environment. Our data storage system is designed to accommodate ever-expanding amounts of image data. STTARR and Princess Margaret Hospital’s Radiation Medicine Program provide a platform for cutting-edge multidisciplinary radiotherapy research that is unmatched anywhere in the world. In addition to advancing their own research, STTARR was designed to support internal and external clients achieve their research aims.




The PET/CT Centre at the Toronto Western Hospital is part of the Krembil Neuroscience Centre, one of the largest cadres of clinician-neuroscientists in Canada.  The TWH PET Centre will provide new research capacity and will enable clinicians and scientists, with expertise in electrophysiology, brain imaging, and computational neuroscience, to interrogate and dissect the complex neuronal circuits that cooperatively function and enable us to interact with our environment.