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VA, University at Buffalo Dedicate PET Camera

Release Date: May 14, 2004

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Department of Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System and the University at Buffalo today dedicated a new Positron Emission Tomography (PET) camera at the veterans' facility, 3495 Bailey Ave.

The camera, made possible in part through a $250,000 grant from the James H. Cummings Foundation, Inc., replaces equipment that has been in use since the PET Center was established in 1991 as a collaborative effort between the VA and UB's Department of Nuclear Medicine. Since then, thousands of patients, both veterans and non-veterans, have been scanned at the center, and millions of dollars of research funding have been received to support a variety of investigative studies.

"We are very grateful to the Cummings Foundation for its support of the PET Center, not only with this latest grant, but also for being instrumental in establishing the center and funding individual research projects over the years," said Michael S. Finegan, Healthcare System director.

The Cummings Foundation provided $1 million to help establish the PET Center and, since 1997, has given an additional $280,000 in grants for research that makes use of center technology.

"Focused on furthering medical science, medical research and medical education, we are delighted to support the PET Center, a collaborative venture between UB and the VA Medical Center, which has benefited the entire region," said John N. Walsh, Jr., president of the board of directors for the James H. Cummings Foundation.

Jennifer A. McDonough, UB vice president for university advancement, thanked the foundation for its long-term, generous support.

"We could ask for no better partner than the James H. Cummings Foundation, whose gifts through the years have helped lead the way in clinical research that benefits all of Western New York," she noted.

Margaret W. Paroski, M.D., interim UB vice president for health affairs and interim dean of the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, also praised the foundation. "It takes a special donor organization to recognize that medical technology and research are ongoing initiatives that need long-term support," she added. "And when given, the rewards are rich for public health."

At the ceremony, Alan Lockwood, M.D., director of PET Center Operations, and Hani Abdel-Nabi, M.D., chair of the Department of Nuclear Medicine in the UB medical school, presented an overview of PET Center activities and research accomplishments.

Lockwood, UB professor of neurology, nuclear medicine, and communicative disorders and sciences, has won international acclaim for PET studies he has led in recent years on the origins of tinnitus.

PET imaging captures basic life processes in pictorial format utilizing radioactive tracers. The tracers come from UB's cyclotron, located across Bailey Avenue on the South (Main Street) Campus. A pneumatic tube under the street, a tangible link between the VA and the university, whisks the material to the PET Center for injection into patients. The studies are used in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, cancers, and neurological disorders. Research at the center has focused on these diseases, as well as understanding the basic functioning of organs and systems.

"UB and VA clinicians and researchers, equipped with this state-of-the-art PET camera, look forward to providing the very best health care to Western New Yorkers and expanding their pioneering research into new areas of inquiry," noted Lockwood.

Following the ceremony, guests toured the PET Center, located on the first floor of the veterans' facility.