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If you think back to 1998, you might remember it as the year that Google came into existence, or the year that construction began on the International Space Station, or perhaps even the year that the UK won the Eurovision Song Contest. But it was also a very significant year for medical sciences: the year that the Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain (FMRIB) officially opened.

A lecture theatre full of people in the Blavatnik School of Government © John Cairns

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) uses blood flow and oxygen metabolism to infer brain activity. Researchers at FMRIB (now part of the University of Oxford's Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, or WIN) use cutting-edge MRI scanning technology and powerful computational methods to study the human brain in health and disease.

On 20 April 2023 alumni, faculty, and students came together to celebrate FMRIB's 25 years, at an event at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. The programme featured reflections on FMRIB's early days as well as its future. It included research highlights on mapping brain function, data analytics, neurophysiology and MR methods. FMRIB alumni spoke about 'Life after FMRIB', and the day concluded with a celebratory drinks reception and buffet.

How did it all begin?

Three University of Oxford professors secured the initial Medical Research Council (MRC) core grant which led to FMRIB's establishment on the John Radcliffe Hospital site back in 1998. Alan Cowey worked in the Department of Experimental Psychology, researching visual neuroscience; John Newsom-Davis was a neurologist who saw the huge potential of MRI for clinical work; and George Radda was a chemist turned physiologist using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance.

Read the full story on the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences website.