Working with Magnetic Resonance Imaging

In 1992 MCW was one of three research institutions to independently develop functional magnetic resonance imaging. This technology allows researchers and clinicians to identify regions of the brain that are associated with performing tasks inside the magnetic resonance imaging machine. As a result of this technology, MCW continues to be a world leader in functional brain imaging, with pioneering work in imaging memory, language, vision regions of the brain.

MCW has become a hub in the region for MRI research. The newly installed 7T imager is a dedicated research site, and is also the 7T imager used for development by GE engineers located at the GE headquarters in about 15 minutes up I-94 in Waukesha. Many cross-institutional collaborations among MCW, UWM, MU, and MSOE leverage the extensive imaging resources on campus. This strong culture of interdisciplinary work between MCW physicists and clinical scientists is a key to the many successful ongoing research programs using MRI in southeastern Wisconsin.

The Center for Imaging Research (CIR) was created in 2002 to support researchers and investigators from universities across Southeastern Wisconsin. Its mission is to unite basic and clinical scientists of various disciplines to further the development and application of functional imaging in health and disease. The Center also oversees the development and maintenance of infrastructure to support the currently funded research projects in functional imaging.

MRI Safety Committee approval is required if proposed research involves the use of MRI which is not standard of care performed on clinical scanners with clinical registered technologists.

 What approvals do I need?

Investigators who would like to use Medical College MRI Scanners for research purposes must submit a proposal through the Office of Research to the MRI Safety Committee.  Moreover, depending on the design of the research study being proposed, the investigator may need to obtain approval from additional safety committees, from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) if human subjects will be involved, and the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) if animals will be involved.  Approval is also needed from the Center for Imaging Research if the Medical College scanners are requested.

Please visit the MRI Safety website to view all MRI Safety Forms and submit the appropriate form for approval for MRI studies involving human subjects or animals.

For questions or assistance regarding MRI safety and approvals, please email

 What can I do to streamline the approval process?
  • Investigators and study team personnel must complete MRI Safety Training prior to conducting studies at the Medical College.  To request training, please fill out the online form Application for MRI Safety Training

  • Review the MRI Safety Training Procedure to ensure all required steps have been completed.

  • Investigators who have questions should contact the MRI Safety Committee at prior to completing the MRI Safety Form for Human or Animal studies.
 Is research monitored following approval?

Research is monitored for safety at each MRI study session by the MRI Scanner Operators.

Research is monitored as needed by the MRI Safety Committee, whose mission is to foster an environment for the safe use of MRI in research at MCW. This mission is accomplished by conducting timely reviews of human participant and animal studies using MRI, providing the necessary safety training for researchers and staff, ensuring only trained and safety screened individuals have access to the magnetic environment, evaluating the safe use of accessory equipment in or around the magnetic environment, and serving as an available resource for investigators and others.

 What can I do to prevent problems in the laboratory?

The MRI Safety Committee has developed Standard Operating Procedures to guide safe practices for the use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging.   It is expected that all investigators adhere to these procedures.

Questions and concerns may be addressed to the MRI Safety Committee:

 What training is required?

MRI Safety Training is required for study personnel working in the magnetic environment or recruiting human subjects who will enter the magnetic environment. Training includes a description of the dangers within the magnetic environment and instructions for identifying subjects and equipment that should not enter the magnetic environment

Principal Investigators are required to complete MRI Safety Training as they are ultimately responsible for the safety of the study. Training may be modified depending on the previous MRI experience of the investigator.

 What resources are available?

Support is available for MRI research from the following sources:

 What are the relevant policies, procedures and guidelines?

Please refer to the policies and SOPs at MRI Safety Standard Operating Procedures prior to conducting MRI research.

 Whom do I contact if I have additional questions?

Center for Imaging Research
General Inquiries: Lydia Washechek
Phone: 414-955-4956
Fax: 414-955-6562

MRI Safety Committee
General Inquiries:
Chair: Andrew Nencka, PhD
Safety Training: Julie Peay

Office of Research
General Inquiries:

Contact the Center for Imaging Research

Phone: 414-955-4956

Fax: 414-955-6562

Email: Lydia Washechek

Web: CIR

Contact the MRI Safety Committee


Chair: Andrew Nencka, PhD

Safety Training:
Julie Peay

Web: MRI Safety

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Page Updated 09/30/2015