Empowering Galapagos Research: A Lifeline from Universal Imaging and Agfa Radiology Solutions

The Galapagos Islands of Ecuador are well known as the setting where Charles Darwin began to unravel the mystery of evolution through natural selection. There remains a unique endemic biodiversity in the Galapagos Islands, where evolution continues to unfold, and is impacted by worldwide events including climate change. A dedicated team of researchers and veterinarians in collaboration with the Galapagos National Park, Galapagos Science Center, and it’s International Science Consortium including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of San Francisco Quito, and the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine are working hard to better understand the unique species of the Galapagos and support conservation efforts. Among them are Eli B. Cohen, DVM, DACVR, a veterinary radiologist, and Gregory Lewbart, DACZM, DECZM, a zoological medicine veterinarian. Both are professors at NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Cohen is also owner/radiologist of Dragonfly Imaging. While there are many ongoing research efforts in the Galapagos, one main focus is the study of the endemic marine iguana, and the impact of climate change on nutrient levels and whether the iguanas actually shrink during times of low food availability. To address this question Drs. Cohen and Lewbart have paired physical examination, external measurements, and blood values of the iguanas with diagnostic imaging in the field, using radiography and ultrasound to provide more precise measurement of individuals over time. Doing this type of imaging in a field setting carries its own set of challenges, but this research can’t even begin without the equipment itself.

The Gift of Cutting-Edge Technology: Universal Imaging and Agfa Radiology Solutions,  recently donated state-of-the-art radiography equipment to support this trailblazing research. Key features for field research include portability, reliability, and quality, and this clinical-industry collaboration provides that support through:

A digital wireless X-Ray plate:  “Our research occurs in the field, on beaches, boats, and places where there is no electrical outlet. Agfa’s Dura-line XD 10 detector provides us the ability to acquire high resolution digital radiographs in remote settings. This supports our research questions and allows us to diagnose injuries with the same level of quality that would occur in a well-equipped veterinary hospital,” Cohen says.

A portable X-ray generator: “The rugged terrain of the Galapagos demands flexibility. The battery powered portable X-ray generator is small enough that we can bring it from the U.S. to the Galapagos, and venture into those portions of the islands where we do our research. The battery lasts us several days, which is key in field research,” Cohen says.

A laptop Computer Workstation: “The laptop workstation is the imaging nerve center in the field. It’s small enough to bring as a carry-on, and easy to set up in the field. The laptop is where I do real-time quality control, first pass image analysis, and have a mechanism to share and teach with veterinary students and collaborators in the field or back at the lab,” Cohen says.  Agfa’s  MUSICA 3+ image processing software runs on this station for an excellent image quality.

Watch his video statement here, as featured on PBS series EVOLUTION EARTH .

The research collaborations in the Galapagos have already resulted in numerous peer-reviewed publications, and new scientific information of the health and wellness of unique species in a fragile ecosystem. The work was also recently featured in the PBS series: Evolution Earth. Universal Imaging and Agfa’s support further fuels those efforts, pairing top of the line equipment with Dr. Cohen’s and Dr. Lewbart’s veterinary expertise and dedication to conservation.

To learn more about our work in the Galapagos, additional information can be found:




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