PROPOSALS to extend a research centre at Oxford’s John Radcliffe hospital have been submitted.

Oxford University wants to extend its Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Res-earch (OCMR) on the site in Headley Way, Headington, to keep it at the cutting edge of the science for the next 20 years.

The centre researches new ways of scanning the heart and brain and an extension would provide more offices and meeting rooms if approved by Oxford City Council.

OCMR Clinical Director Professor Stefan Neubauer said: “OCMR is a world-leading multidisciplinary centre for clinical research in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the heart, brain and abdominal organs.

“Our primary focus is on clinical studies that offer new insight into diseases and have the potential to change clinical practice, and on the development and implementation of novel methods for non-invasive MRI scanning.

“In addition, we provide a busy clinical cardiac MRI service for the NHS. Overall, we scan about 4,000 patients and subjects per year. “ A project to build an extension to the OCMR centre is currently in the planning phase. This will involve adding a roof extension to the existing building, adding about 400 sq metres of useable space.

Prof Neubauer explained it would provide extra space to allow existing research groups to grow, and to build up new research programmes, such as for large-scale population-based imaging, image analysis and novel methods of ultra-high field imaging.

The increased space will also allow for the ground floor waiting areas to be redesigned.

Prof Neubauer added: “Finally, it will allow us to install a third MR scanner, we currently run two scanners, in the basement of the centre, thus increasing our scan capacity by 50 per cent.

“Overall, the extension will allow us to keep OCMR at the cutting edge of science and clinical service for the next two decades.”

Jacquie Pearce-Gervis, chairwoman of county health watchdog Patient Voice, welcomed the move.

She said: “It seems a really positive move and I would hope that the application is given some kind of priority as it is important for anyone who would need the service.”

It comes after the latest extension on the hospital site in Headington opened in July.

The £5.5m state-of-the-art extension is to the specialist baby unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

The newborn intensive care unit cares for the sickest babies from Oxfordshire and the Thames Valley and its extension doubled the number of intensive care cots in the neonatal intensive care unit from 10 to 20.