Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Lab


CHBH Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Lab Lead:
Dr Magda Chechlacz  
CHBH Chief Radiographer:
Nina Salman
CHBH MR Physicist:
Dr Martin Wilson
MR Research Technician/Research Programmer:
Dagmar Fraser

The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) laboratory houses a Siemens MAGNETOM Prisma 3T MRI system, installed in December 2018. This new generation 3T MRI full body platform implements high-performance 80 mT/m gradient sets and up to 128 RF receive channels enabling high signal-to-noise and high spatial resolution head-to-toe imaging. The fast gradient system provides high-speed structural and functional imaging, the latest parallel transmit technology, simultaneous multi-slice acceleration, and high coil element density enabling increased temporal resolution and faster imaging.

The scanner is equipped with 64-Channel Head/Neck coil, 32-Channel Head coil, as well as 20-Channel coil suitable to accommodate larger patients. In addition, a full set of coils for whole-body imaging is available, including spine matrix coil and flexible matrix arrays suitable for scanning different body parts. The 64-Channel coil has increased field of view enabling greater accessibility for peripheral equipment such as eye-tracking. The 64-Channel allows for simultaneous electroencephalography (EEG) recordings and transcranial direct current stimulation.

The peripherals of the MRI system include:

  • ProPixx visual projector (1440 Hz refresh rate)
  • SOUNDPixx auditory stimulation
  • SR Research Eyelink Eye tracker
  • MR-compatible button boxes (NATA Response Boxes; 2x5 and 2x2)
  • Stimulus delivery computers (Psychtoolbox, PsychoPy, ePRIME and Presentation) 
  • Mock scanner with projector and stimulus delivery computer

For data analysis, CHBH MRI users can access the Parallel Brain Imaging Cluster (PBIC), a high-performance computing cluster, specifically supporting neuroimaging data analysis tools. PBIC consists of a set of RAID storage units, SGE cluster nodes and Brain Imaging Lab (BIL) workstations located in the CHBH building.

The mock scanner allows researchers to train and/or acclimatise participants, particularly children and patients, to the MRI environment and advanced experimental setups.

More information is available on the CHBH Intranet, accessible by University of Birmingham staff.

How can researchers access the equipment within this lab?
To gain access to the MRI lab there are procedures for training, ethics and project proposals. For the procedures please see the CHBH Operating Procedures and Local Rules.

What research data is produced and what can we understand from this?
The CHBH houses several MRI research groups with particular expertise in functional MRI, diffusion MRI, arterial spin labelling and MR spectroscopy, as well as concurrent EEG-fMRI. MRI enables complex analysis of brain function and structure, including modelling of network connectivity in healthy participants and clinical populations.

How is this lab contributing to the CHBH values and principles?
The MRI lab is at the heart of CHBH multimodal brain imaging and multidisciplinary research focused on understanding what makes our brains healthy, how to maintain brain health across the lifespan, and how to prevent and reverse damage. The CHBH MRI system is used for a large number of basic science and clinical studies, including several key projects investigating youth mental health, ageing, stroke recovery and mechanisms of sleep and appetite. Our scanner is used by multiple users across the University of Birmingham, including researchers in all Schools within the College of Life and Environmental Sciences (LES) (especially Psychology and Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences), as well as the many collaborating Schools, Colleges and institutions outside of LES (Medical School, Psychiatry, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Institute of Translational Medicine, Barberry National Centre for Mental Health, Birmingham Children's Hospital). The users of the CHBH MRI lab are encouraged to conduct research in accordance with the principles of open science and data sharing.

For further information, please contact the CHBH MRI Lab Lead - Dr Madga Chechlacz and/or CHBH Chief Radiographer Nina Salman.