University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research Opens at UCSF Mission Bay

By Lisa Cisneros, UCSF Today | March 8, 2005

Once relegated to subterranean space on the UCSF Parnassus campus, Sarah Nelson, professor of advanced imaging, now finds herself in the brand-new headquarters of the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research at Mission Bay.

The California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research, or QB3, is the third life sciences research building to open at the sprawling 43-acre UCSF Mission Bay campus. Regis B. Kelly, PhD, former executive vice chancellor at UCSF, directs QB3 at its Mission Bay headquarters. He moved into the new building on March 1.

Although scientists and staff have just begun to move into the new building at Mission Bay, QB3 has been operating as a collaborative venture with UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz for nearly three years. The California institutes were created under Gov. Gray Davis to fuse public and private sector support for cutting-edge research and training for future scientists, and to help California maintain its leadership in an increasingly competitive technology-based economy.

Nelson will be at the forefront of state-of-the-art technology as she heads the new Margaret Hart Surbeck Laboratory of Advanced Imaging. The laboratory is dedicated to developing high-resolution imaging techniques for basic and translational research, which bridges laboratory findings to benefit patients. Nelson became the first professor on March 2 to move into the QB3 headquarters, a $100 million, 153,000-square-foot building, which is adjacent to UCSF Genentech Hall.

Interviewed in her third-floor office overlooking the San Francisco Bay, Nelson said, "I'm delighted to be here. It's been a transition time for me. Eighteen months ago, I was cramped in a very small space underneath the parking structure at the Parnassus campus. There was no window. It was very ugly and there were far too many people sitting on top of each other. And then I moved to the Center for Molecular and Functional Imaging, which was a big improvement because my researchers actually had somewhere where they could sit and they could see daylight.

"But I really feel the challenges here at Mission Bay to bring the more disease-oriented research and engineering techniques that we have together with basic biology is really great. I think it's a new opportunity and I am very excited about it."

Nelson and her 15-person team will be among the first to use the "7 Tesla" (7T) superconducting magnet - one of the most powerful ever built for magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy. The 7T magnet offers a five-fold improvement in imaging sensitivity over those now used clinically, says Nelson, PhD, the Margaret Hart Surbeck Distinguished Professor of Advanced Imaging at UCSF and a professor of bioengineering at UC Berkeley.

These improved images will provide valuable information about the tissue and metabolites in and around cancer and about other disease processes, illuminating the underlying biological mechanisms and helping physicians and researchers monitor response to therapy more effectively.

Read more at Lisa Cisneros, UCSF Today