Less basic research on ways doctors can diagnose diseases without operating, more focus on commercial applications of diagnostic technology and less on pure research, less funding for a project that would make MRIs cheaper and therefore increase availability in Canada
A major research project to produce cheaper yet effective MRI machines that would have benefitted Canadian patients was cut in April 2012. The National Research Council Canada (NRC) laid off 54 people, a third of the staff at its Institute for Biodiagnostics in Winnipeg, spelling the end of the development of low-field, high-performance magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, in 2011–2012 the rate for MRI exams in Canada was 49 per 1000 people compared with 98 in the United States and 95 in Germany.
NRC also closed and sold its two buildings in Winnipeg, moving remaining staff to a new location in the city. In announcing the layoffs, NRC said remaining staff would continue to work on medical devices. However, one Winnipeg executive who had worked closely with the institute told the Winnipeg Free Press that the continuing NRC operations "will be industrial R and D (research and development) for hire." Since this reorganization in 2011, the NRC has de-emphasized basic research in many areas to focus on industrial applications.
The NRC's Institute for Biodiagnostics had had many successes in previous years. It made the technology behind IMRIS Inc., a Winnipeg company that sells unique MRI machines for use in surgical theatres to hospitals around the world.
Learn more here.