April 29, 2018 — Safety Training

Safety Training

Our second MRI Safety Training class will be held at the MRI scanner suite this week:

     when: Wed, May 2, noon-1PM
     where: SDSU Imaging Center, EISC, Room 16

The SDSU Imaging Center is on the lower level of the south hall of the new Engineering and Interdisciplinary Science Complex (here is an interactive map showing its location).

Anyone who plans to use the MRI center (that is, enter the MRI control room and/or the MRI magnet room) will need to take this short course. Even people with previous MRI experience must take the course to learn about site-specific emergency procedures, and to get on our books.

Before arriving, memorize the contents of our short document on MRI safety (PDF).

Also take a look at our Participant Screening Form (PDF).

Finally, be sure to sign in when you get here.

No worries if any interested party can't make this session of the class. It will be offered on a regular basis every month as needed during the startup period.

March 23, 2018 — Ready!

Ready to go!

We are shimmed, re-shimmed, back up to field, and ready to go!

The Siemens Application Training week will start this Monday, March 26th at noon. Any interested party is invited to show up on that first half day. This will help us schedule specific training sessions for the week. If you can't make the first day, you are welcome later in the week (3 additional full days on Tues to Thurs).

March 17, 2018 — Shimming at 3T

Setting the higher order shims

Shimming at 3T

We are back up to field without event, now re-calculating passive shims, and then tune-up.

The Siemens Application Training week is on track for the week of March 26th. Tom Minahan from Siemens will be here to provide Siemens applications training from noon on Monday noon until noon on Friday.

Anyone interested is encouraged to show up for the first training session on Monday afternoon, March 26th, so that we can tailor training for the rest of the week.

So I can get a rough head count, please email me (msereno @ sdsu.edu) if you are interested in participating in one or more days of this training.

When the field was down, I unobtrusively observed that many people walking down the hallway would nonchalantly stroll in, past the official danger signs, right into the magnet room. As the quaint hand-written sign reminds, never forget that 'the magnet is always on'. It's not 'plugged in' and stays fully on, even when all the power to it is cut.

February 19, 2018 — Up To Field Soon

Up to Field Soon

Siemens is on site, doing a thermal cycle, which translates to 'turning the magnet on for good'. We are on track to be up to field in March.

January 31, 2018 — Mumbai MRI accident

Mumbai MRI accident

Fatal accidents with MRI magnets are exceedingly rare. For example, last year there were 1.3 million auto accident fatalities in the world (over 3,000 deaths per day) compared to zero deaths from MRI accidents. The last fatal MRI accident in the US occurred in 2001 (oxygen cylinder accidentally brought into magnet room in a hospital).

This week, there was a fatal accident in a hospital MRI magnet in Mumbai. A family member was mistakenly allowed to bring an oxygen cylinder for his aging relative into the magnet room, the cylinder got sucked into the magnet trapping his hand, but also rupturing the oxygen cylinder. This rapidly released pure oxygen, which is corrosive and extremely cold as a result of the sudden decompression, and which caused fatal respiratory arrest.

It's worth taking a look at the misleading reporting on this tragedy. First, there were the usual click-bait headlines, "Man sucked into magnet" as opposed to a more accurate, "Man trapped between metal object and magnet" or "ruptured oxygen cylinder kills man". But many of the reports implied that the problem was that the family members weren't told that the "magnet was turned on". This is extremely misleading because the main magnetic field is always on, continuously, for years at a time. The main superconducting magnet is not 'plugged in'. In fact, it will stay fully 'on' even if all the electrical power goes off. Some of the articles got corrected, no doubt after MRI-knowledgeable people complained.

The bottom line is: MRI is extremely safe, as long as everybody scrupulously follows the simple but critical safety guideline: never, ever bring a ferrromagnetic object into the magnet room.

January 18, 2018 — Siemens Applications Training Rescheduled to Mar 26th

Siemens Applications Training Week Rescheduled to March 26th

A further series of construction delays have prevented Siemens from ramping the magnet back up to field in time for the Siemens Applications Training originally rescheduled for January 29.

The Siemens Application Training week therefore had to be rescheduled to the week of March 26th.

The recent hurricane season has put substantial stress on MRI manufacturers (e.g., Siemens alone has had to re-cool and re-fill cryogens for more than 70 quenched magnets in the southeast of the US).

Very sorry for the additional delay.

November 30, 2017 — Siemens Applications Training Rescheduled to Jan 29!

Siemens Applications Training Rescheduled to Jan 29!

[Update: Re-Rescheduled above!]

Last minute construction delays have prevented Siemens from ramping the magnet back up to field in time for the Siemens Applications Training that was originally scheduled for the week of December 4.

Therefore, we have had to cancel the December 4-7 training sessions.

Because of the holidays and the short notice, Siemens was not able to reschedule the applications training until the week of Jan 29, 2018.

Sorry for this late notice (and the delay).

November 20, 2017 — Siemens Applications Training

Siemens Applications Training

[Update: Rescheduled above!]

Siemens Applications Specialist Tom Minahan is currently scheduled to be here from 9 AM on Monday, December 4, until late afternoon on Thurs, December 7, to train interested parties on the use of Siemens applications on our new Prisma 3T MRI machine.

Tom will start with a coil and system review upon arrival, and so we hope that as many future regular operators can be in attendance as possible on the first day (Mon, Dec 4). This will also help us configure the later training days to cover the things we are actually going to use (this training is usually geared toward clinical rather than research users).

So I can get a rough head count, please email me (msereno @ sdsu.edu) if you are interested in participating in one or more days of this training.

Finally, we will need some volunteer subjects for scanner training.

More detailed info on the schedule for the week coming shortly.

October 25, 2017 — Magnet Installation In Progress

Magnet Installation

The magnet installation is well along. The shielded room has been completed and tested, and the magnet successfully ramped up and down. The EIS building remains on schedule to be opened for initial move-in in December.

Magnet inside completed shielded room

                    Our three one-million-watt water-cooled gradient ampifiers

                    Our minus 452 degrees Fahrenheit fridge (4 deg Kelvin)

Courtyard tiles ready to grout

September 08, 2017 — Come to the Town Hall Meeting on Sept 14

Hi All

We will be having an informal town hall meeting to discuss progress and plans for the new SDSU neuroimaging center next week:

Thursday, Sept 14
Gold Auditorium
Donald P. Shiley Bioscience Center
campus map
11:30 AM - 1:30 PM

Hope to see you there.

Marty Sereno
Director SDSU Imaging Center
msereno at sdsu.edu

September 06, 2017 — Our (13 ton) Prisma arrives!

Here are some pictures of our new 13-ton Prisma being craned into the Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences building today. Some assembly is still required. The copper Faraday cage as well as tons of iron magnetic shielding will soon be wrapped around the magnet room as the Prisma is assembled, cooled down to almost absolute zero, brought up to field, and tested over the next month.

Still wrapped

Ready to lift (red optical data cables)

                    Up it goes

                    Almost there

Onto rollers over plexiglass

Safely down a ramp with the help of a forklift

August 30, 2017 — Our Prisma ready to be shipped!

August 25, 2017 — Outreach Letter from the Director

Hi all

I arrived at SDSU last Fall to help plan and direct the new SDSU MRI imaging center which will be sited in the new Engineeering and Interdisciplinary Science Building (EIS) on campus. The installation of our new Siemens Prisma 3T will begin early this September. The center should open for business for the San Diego neuroimaging community in early-mid 2018.

I wanted to reach out to all of you who might have an interest in the new MRI imaging center, so apologies in advance for overreach, and definitely feel free to forward this to any possible interested party.

We are planning a lunchtime meet and greet town hall meeting in September (details available soon).


One major research audience for the new magnet are people interested in imaging the brain with one or more of the different available MRI imaging modalities, including:

structural imaging (e.g., quantitative T1 imaging)
blood oxygen level detection (BOLD functional MRI, fMRI)
tissue blood perfusion (arterial spin labeling, ASL)
white/gray matter fiber direction detection (diffusion tensor imaging, DTi)
magnetic susceptibility-weighted imaging
hydrogen spectroscopy ('chemical shift' imaging)

I am particularly interested in finding out the kinds of stimulus and responses devices that different groups of people will be needing. Among other things, we have plans to set up both front and back projection for visual stimuli (including direct-view VR wide-field), eye tracking, high fidelity scanner-noise-cancelling audio presentation and recording, multichannel air puff stimulation, olfactory stimulation, bimanual responses, bore and hand cams, and possibly prospective video-based motion correction (new KinetiCor) as well as EEG-in-the-magnet.

But we will also have coils and sequences for imaging other neural and non-neural parts of the body. For example, it is possible to do midsagittal imaging of the speech articulators at reasonable frame rates using sequences originally designed for dynamic imaging of the heart. We will also have a spine coil as well as wrap coils.

New signals

We are planning to obtain research access to the magnet software environment in order to be able to design and compile new pulse and image processing sequences as well as to install and use those from other MRI centers. The development of new MRI pulse sequences is a very active research area -- MRI is 'not done yet'.

New analyses

Another area of active development in neuroimaging is software for analyzing structural and functional MRI data. There are many freely available well-suported software packages (e.g., AFNI, FreeSurfer, FSL, SPM); but neuroimaging is a fertile field for newly introduced big data learning and inverse methods and GPU image processing.

Multimodal imaging

MRI neuroimaging can be combined with other modalities (for example, EEG [mentioned above], TMS, tDCS, ultrasound, separately recorded MEG). This is another area of active development.

Post-mortem and non-biological samples

Inert samples can be scanned for longer periods (e.g., overnight) to increase resolution. This competes with more traditional histological techniques because of better geometry preservation.

Non-biological samples such as wet sediment cores can also be scanned. For best resolution, specialized RF coils can be constructed to get as close to the sample as possible.

Scanner-related devices

Finally, given the large number of magnets worldwide, there is a substantial market for new devices that can be used to deliver sensory stimuli in the magnet (visual, auditory, somatosensory, pain, olfactory, taste), directly stimulate the brain (TMS, tDCS), record record participant responses (manual, pedal, oral, vocal, GSR, EEG, eye tracking), or extend the magnet hardware (higher resolution RF coil arrays, baby RF coils, fixed tissue RF coils).

The most important requirement -- beyond an exciting new concept for a device -- is having an accessible, engineer-friendly magnet for prototyping and verification. The challenging MRI environment (magnetic fields, high-power RF, requirement for low RF emission to avoid imaging artifacts) is virtually impossible to simulate and verify without an actual magnet on hand.

You run the scanner

After safety training (the big scanner magnetic field is always on, even when the power goes off...), we will train you to operate the scanner yourself. Each new scanning project will begin with a brief (4 min) public project proposal presentation to give us a chance to help you refine it, to build our local imaging community, and to give researchers new to the technology a chance to see how it is done.

Be an early adopter

Once there has been time to submit and obtain grant funding for imaging studies at our new center, we will be charging users the standard hourly fee for scan time. In order to give researchers time to obtain preliminary data, and to submit and obtain grants sited at SDSU, for a limited time, we will offer heavily discounted scan time. I will be teaching a Foundations of Neuroimaging course (PSY 596) this Fall that will use the SDSU Learning Glass lecture recording system.

Email me

I am sure I have missed some people who might have interest in the new imaging center, so feel free to forward this message to interested parties in any department (or university) who might not have received it. Finally, feel free to contact me with any possible query, request, or interest you may have.

Marty Sereno

Director SDSU MRI Imaging Center
msereno at sdsu.edu

Background Image: "FishyTopy" Claudia Fernety