Local News

Billionaire Murdock Purchases Huge Nuclear Imaging Technology Device For N.C. Research Campus

Posted August 21, 2006

— Billionaire David Murdock further solidified his commitment to the rapidly emerging

North Carolina Research Campus

on Monday, announcing he had purchased a rare nuclear imaging device for use in drug and nutrition research.

The two-story tall, eight-ton device will hold a 950-megahertz superconducting device for use in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) imaging. Built by German firm Bruker BioSpin, it is the largest and first device on such a scale, according to Murdock. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The Avance II 950 US2 machine will be installed in the David H. Murdock Research Institute, which will be built as part of the 350-acre, $1 billion campus in Kannapolis. The site once included a massive textile plant that employed as many as 5,000 people. It is now being demolished.

Also Monday, Murdock participated in the "topping out" of the headquarters building now under construction and disclosed that the Biomarker Group would be a tenant in the development's core laboratory building. The company, which is based in Winston-Salem, developed a diabetes test called GlycoMark.

"I want everyone to understand the importance of the Institute and the campus in plain English," Murdock said in a statement. "We've opened the door to research that will help everyone lead longer, healthier lives. World-class resources will attract world-class scientists."

Murdock, an outspoken advocate of healthy diets and the owner of Dole Foods as well as development firm Castle & Cooke that is spearheading the project, also announced that he purchased four other NMR devices that will help form the core of the research lab.

Attending the press conference were representatives of Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. Murdock is actively recruiting them along with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the UNC system and other institutions to be partners in the campus.

Robert Taber, vice chancellor of corporate and venture development at Duke University Medical Center, said the 950 MHz device is the first commercial device "of this magnitude in the world. He added that it "will allow us to view biological molecules at an unprecedented resolution. It will be the flagship of a virtual armada of NMR devices available to the scientific community."

Spokesmen for both UNC CH and NCSU also said the device will be crucial for research into areas ranging from nutrition to the creation of novel therapeutics to combat antibiotic resistance.

The device creates a central magnetic field 15 times stronger than most hospital MRI equipment. Its core is cooled by liquid helium (minus 456 degrees Fahrenheit). It is still being constructed in Germany.

"This commitment by David Murdock is the first of many scientific purchases that will give the researchers using the Institute's facilities the tools they need to make many new discoveries that will help change the world," said Andrew Conrad, a former Dole Food executive who is the chief scientific officer of the Research Campus. "We in the scientific community have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity here."


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