Residents of the South now have a new MRI scanner – one of the most advanced in the country – for performing brain scans and research at Soroka University Medical Center and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba.The $3 million cost was shared by Clalit Health Services, which owns the hospital; Soroka University Medical Center; donors Harvey and Miri Katz of Houston, Texas; donor Jacob Shochat of New Jersey; the Skirball Foundation in New York; and BGU Friends in Texas.Clalit director-general Eli Depes attended the unveiling ceremony Monday, along with Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, BGU president Prof. Rivka Carmi, Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilevich and other guests.The advanced scanner, the Ingenia 3- Tesla model from the Philips company, cost $2m. to purchase and another $1m.to house. It is the second MRI installed at Soroka and will be used jointly not only to scan patients’ brains but also to conduct brain research at the university.Depes said that the infrastructure and equipment at Soroka make it possible for the medical teams to provide the best care. “They are now among the best in the country. Clalit has invested in Soroka over many years with a long-term view.”Carmi – a pediatrician and geneticist, and formerly dean of BGU’s School of Health Sciences – said that “doctors and scientists in the field of nerve sciences, as well as psychologists and other behavioral researchers, will use the device, which expresses the important connection between the two institutions. It will benefit both sides to benefit Negev residents and the world of medicine in general.”Hospital director Michael Sherf said that the second MRI, one of the most sophisticated in Israel, is part of the process of introducing the most advanced technologies to the hospital.“This MRI will make it possible to research the brain at a high level and with leading doctors and scientists. It will serve Negev residents in every matter involving complicated and special examinations.”The technology makes it possible to convert the emitted analog signal into digital data immediately after it leaves the body. Thanks to this, it is possible to significantly improve the resulting pictures, which are produced at high speed, compared to analog MRI systems, said Dr. Ilan Shelef, head of the hospital’s imaging institute.The highly exact device will be used for patients with strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and autism, as well as other brain diseases, said Prof. Alon Friedman, chairman of BGU’s Center for Neuron Studies.Soroka experts perform some 14,000 scans a year, some on adults and others on children and even fetuses.