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Princess Anne visits King’s College London 

Photo Courtesy of Emma Carmichael

In her role as the Chancellor of the University of London, Princess Anne visited the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences at King College London’s (KCL) Denmark Hill Campus last Friday, March 8. She met with researchers, clinicians and collaborators of the UNITY project, which focuses on neurodevelopment patterns in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. 

The Princess Royal was hosted by King’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, whose Executive Dean, Professor Matthew Hotopf accompanied her throughout her visit. She was also accompanied by the Vice Chancellor of the University of London, Wendy Thomson, the Senior Vice President for Life Sciences and Health and Executive Director of King’s Health Partners, Professor Richard Trembath and Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London, Anthony Griffiths. She met with researchers, including the Principal Investigator of the UNITY, (Ultra-low field Neuroimaging In the Young) project and professor of Neuroimaging at KCL, Steve Williams

Professor Trembath said: 

‘We are delighted to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences. This project is an exemplar of the type of world-class research that we conduct at King’s, and it is a great honour to have the opportunity to show Her Royal Highness our commitment to be in service to society.’

Similarly, Professor Williams commented that: 

‘It is a great pleasure for us to introduce HRH The Princess Royal to the UNITY project. We hope that these portable MRI scanners will revolutionise neuroscience, providing global access to brain imaging. This collaborative project has a common goal – to improve quality of life for mothers and their children across the world.’

The UNITY Consortium is a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It involves research teams from across the globe, as well as joining together academic, community, clinical and industry partners. The project aims to improve the use of portable MRI scanners. It has various research areas, including how maternal nutrition and environment can impact brain development. The project is distributing “Swoop” portable MRI scanners to countries across South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. So far, 25 of these scanners have been distributed across 15 countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Pakistan, South Africa and Uganda. These scanners have the advantage of being able to be used beyond the confines of a typical radiology department. The use of these scanners will aid in assessing brain health and development in babies and young children in different countries. The Swoop scanners are the product of American-based medical equipment company Hyperfine, which has been granted over $8 million by the Gates Foundation since 2020. During her visit to KCL, Princess Anne was given a demonstration of the scanners in action

In addition to its work as part of the UNITY project, King’s Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences also provides NHS services under the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. 

Princess Anne’s visit to KCL was her fourth since 2017, visiting in 2023, and 2022, and having opened the Centre for Medical Engineering in 2017. The Princess Royal’s most recent visit was highlighted across various social media platforms by KCL 3 days after her visit, including on X, (formerly Twitter), and Instagram

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