Imagine being able to see what's going on in a person's brain as he or she interacts with people from around the world. That's just one of many studies going on at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke.
The VTCRI has everything you'd expect such as laboratories, beakers, and doctoral students who are conducting research. It also has some things you might not.
The Executive Director of VTCRI Michael Friedlander showed our WDBJ7 crew two huge magnets that weigh 30,000 pounds each. "That machine generates a very powerful magnetic field, more powerful than the earth's magnetic field," Dr. Friedlander explained.
People who are involved in the study lay in the MRI machines and play an economic video game of sorts. The participants interact with people in other parts of the country and the world while researchers study their brains.
"They use economic games for the study to see how one person develops a social interaction with another person," said Dr. Friedlander. It helps researchers see how the human brain develops trust.
Researchers looks at healthy people and those with brain injuries. "You can see how multiple brains in multiple people are interacting with each other in a real social situation which is a great insight to study psychological and neurological disease," said Friedlander.
The hub of this worldwide research is right here at the VTC Research Institute in Roanoke.
The VTCRI opened two years ago and now houses 20 research teams. That number is about to grow now that the third story is complete.
The $15 million dollar third floor includes freezers where DNA and antibodies are stored. They must be kept at a chilling minus 80 degrees. It also houses a state of the art conference room, a sterilization area, and more lab space where world class researchers will work.
"We're going to be recruiting a series of new investigating work in an area of cancer research, cardiovascular research, and infectious disease," said Dr. Friedlander. "We're very excited. This gives us the opportunity to do a lot of things we weren't able to do."